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When Do Cygnets Turn White?

When Do Cygnets Turn White?

Swans are beautiful white birds that reside near water bodies. Their younglings are often referred to as cygnets. Cygnets have brown plumage and are not much appealing. It is a wonder of nature that how cygnet molt into a graceful white swan that is well-known for its shiny coat and graceful gait. In this article, I will answer the frequently asked query that when do cygnets turn white.

When Do Cygnets Turn White?

Depending upon the type and nutrition, the trumpeter cygnets turn white until the second year of life. Tundra cygnets turn white at the end of their first winter. Polish swans are rare cygnets that are born with white plumage.

Now let’s move to the detail.

When Do Different Types Of Cygnets Turn White?

Swans naturally breed in springs and the female lays eggs on every alternate day until the mating season is done. The eggs take 35-42 days to hatch. A newly born cygnet, except for the polish swan, has gray plumage and black beaks until the first six months of their life. After that, they start learning flying and their feathers also turn brown. The cygnets are then taken to a non-breeding territory until they get mature.

As mentioned earlier, the swans belonging to the Tundra region turn white earlier, By the end of the First winter to be precise.  The trumpeter swan also known as the mute swan, turns white by the summer of the second year of their life. 

Significance Of White Color

White color represents maturity. In mating season, the mature females and males are attracted to the white coat of the opposite sex. During mating, the male swans see each other as rivals. They can be very aggressive if they find white males of others flocking their territories. The parents can even attack their young ones mistakenly.

The cygnets with brown color are not considered fit for mating and polite behavior is adopted towards them. During the mating season, immature cygnets start moulting their brown feathers. The white coating starts spreading over their body and soon they have to leave the old territory in search of a new one.

Polish Cygnet Or White Cygnet

Polish cygnets are the result of a rare genetic mutation that turns them white as soon as they are born. It is a sex chromosome recessive trait. Unlike mammals, the birds have a different set of sex chromosomes, ZZ in males and ZW in females. The polish mutation is due to a local gene on the Z sex chromosome. As there is only 1 Z chromosome in females and white color is a recessive trait ( A recessive trait is the one which will only be expressed If both the chromosome has the mutated gene which is very rare) so the probability of a female being cygnet is more. 

When Do Cygnets Turn White?

It is a very rare phenomenon and very few cases are reported. And it can be regarded as a disadvantage when compared with the normal cygnet. The brown plumage of the young cygnets saves them from the aggressive behavior of mature swans during the mating season. The Polish swans are often mistaken as adults. They are attacked and often get killed by adults.

Polish swans are both rare and cute. They are often located and saved by the wildlife at a young age. They are also used for selective breeding purposes to create more white swans.

Pink Cygnet

First of all pink is not a natural color for swans, so don’t get your hopes too high. Swans with pink feathers were observed in Worcester, Massachusetts. Many experiments proved that the bizarre color was a result of eating moldy bread. Nutrition is a very important factor in determining the color coat of the plumage. Good nutrition gives a smooth and shiny coat to the plumage whereas old food can cause different changes such as pink plumage and orange beak.

This condition is called pink feather flamingo syndrome and it is lethal for the swans. A change in feather consistency halts their insulation abilities and swans can die of cold.   


Cygnets are baby swans that are gray and brown until they get mature. A mature swan can be easily identified by its white coat. The significance of color is apparent during mating season as swans with white plumage are considered mature. They fight for the best female and the weaker ones have to flee from the flock. Young cygnets with a brown coat are exempted from the competition and so from the aggressive attacks of the mature white-colored swans. Polish swan is a rare breed with its benefits and harms. Pink feather flamingo syndrome in which the color of the swan turns pink is a very rare and life-threatening condition caused by the poor diet of the swans.

All the facts stated are collected from authentic sources across the web. I have tried my best to fully explain when do cygnets turn white. If you still have any questions in mind, feel free to ask me in the comment box down below.

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