Mute Swan Morphs at Cranberry Marsh, Whitby

This family of seven Mute Swans at Cranberry Marsh, Whitby, near Toronto, comprises two adults, three white morph juveniles, and two gray morph juveniles. They are easily seen from the hawkwatch platform at end of south trail off Halls Road. 9 September 2014.


Six of the family from left to right: one white morph juvenile, one adult, two grey morph juveniles, one adult at back and one white morph juvenile. The white morph is also known as the Polish morph, a name given by British poulterers over 100 years ago. Rare in Britain, the white morph was imported from Eastern Europe where its frequency was very much higher in the Mute Swan population. 9 September 2014.


A white morph juvenile Mute Swan such as the one on the left is white from hatching to adulthood. Its legs are greyish or greyish-tan and the colour of the bill is pinkish, which will change more rapidly than a grey morph to the reddish-orange of adults. The two grey morph birds above hatched as grey morph cygnets covered in greyish brown down and will gradually molt over two years into white adults. Their legs are dark grey or black. 9 September 2014.


This is an adult white morph Mute Swan because the leg colour is pinkish grey to pale grey as above, whereas grey morph adults have slate grey to black legs. White morph birds can be identified at all ages by leg colour. Cranberry Marsh on 30 September 2014.



I thank Ron Pittaway for discussing the morphs of the Mute Swan with me.


Link to Recognizable Forms article by Lisa Enright in Ontario Birds Vol 12(1): 19-26. 1994.

Ecological Significance of the White and Grey Colour Morphs of the Mute Swan



Exit from the 401 at Brock St. in Whitby. Go south on Brock St. to Victoria St. Go west (right) on Victoria to Halls Road. Go south (left) on Halls Rd to the 2nd walkway to Cranberry Marsh.