Mute Swan bird<<<< Back to birds
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Anseriformes
- Family: Anatidae
- SubFamily: Anserinae
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Length: 1.2 - 1.7 m
- Weight: 10 - 12 kg
- Wing span: 2 - 2.5m
- Speed: 90 km/h (55 mph)
- Lifespan: 19 - 20 years
- Clutch size: 4 - 8 Eggs
Mute swan (Cygnus olor) belongs to the Cygnus genus, Anseriformes order, Anatidae family. It is a migratory bird spread in swamps, bogs and lakes with rich vegetation (reed, bulrush, etc.) in northern and central Europe, Turkey, North America and the Balkans. They prefer tall vegetation. It is a widespread species in Europe and a symbol of royalty and purity.
In Romania it can be found in the summer, in the Danube Delta and some lakes in the south. In the winter it migrates to southern Caspian sea with the storks from northern Europe. In milder winters most of them don't leave our country. That means you can see swans in the delta also in winter. It is protected by law because of its beauty and rarity.
The Mute swan is also known as the Summer swan.
Food Mute Swan
Mute swan's diet is made from plants, roots, herbs, seeds, worms, insects, mollusks and small fish. This bird, at least in our country,feeds more on food found in water .With their long necks they can dive to depths of over one meter. We can say that the swan mostly feeds on aquatic vegetation or macrofites.
Usually swans prefer deep waters, where there are no ducks or other waterfowl.The advantage is that they don't have to compete with them for food.
Winter is a threat to the swans . Banks freeze and they will willfully stand in water. In winter swans lose weight because they don't have the same variety and amount of food available as in summer.
Features Mute Swan
Mute swans are considered the most beautiful and popular swans. They can be easily recognized by the whiteand long S-shaped neck, the red-orange beak, the "bump" between the forehead and beak and their black legs. The bird has a length of 140 to 160cm and weighs 8 to 12 kg. Males are usually larger. Wingspan is of 2 to 2.5 meters. The feathers are white, the tail is relatively long and sharp at the tip. Summer swan's beak is orange-red at maturity. The young swans are gray by the age of 2 to 3 years. That "bump" is more prominent in males.
It is a bird that lives in large groups. Males remove their dominant rivals by leaps, various "slides" on the water or fluttering their long wings. In flight they can reach speeds of 85km/h.
Mute Swans don't sing, but their wings make a fluttering sound which can be heard from a distance. That sound is produced by the air passing through their wings when flying. While swimming, their neck is held grandly in an S shape form, their beak pointed downward while the wings are raised in a shield shape. In parks and zoos it is among the most popular decorative bird being tamed relatively easy.
The flight of the summer swan and of swans in general is spectacular. It needs to run about 10 meters in order to take flight. The landing is made with wide open wings hovering slightly above the water then finally slipping and stopping on the water surface. For landing the swan needs a space of 3 to 4m. This bird has a highly developed territorial sense.
The natural enemies of the swans are foxes and jackals, which are lurking during the moulting and winter season. It is usually an agressive bird when it feels threatened or when they have chicks. It rarely gets caught except when it is ill or old. The most vulnerable are the eggs that usually become food for raccoons, minks and other mammals. Usually they stay near the nest to decrease the chances of an egg being stolen.
Reproduction Mute Swan
Mute Swans nest in the ponds and lakes of the Danube Delta, where they nest in reeds, far away from potential predators, in virgin areas. Sometimes they nest on slow rivers or canals, closer to people if they feel safe and can procure food. As mentioned above they prefer tall vegetation since its a big bird and their nest must be of a considerable size
It was noticed that the mute swan may have 4 to 5 males. Sometimes they will "divorce" one for another.
During rutting they inflate their feathers and will court their partner gracefully. After mating, in the early days of may, the female lays 5 to 12 greyish-white eggs. The eggs are incubated by both parents for 34 to 36 days. During this time the male fiercely defends his nest. Their agressive behaviour during reproduction time is well-known. The male needs to keep strangers away so that the female can hatch the eggs peacefully. The chicks begin to fly after 60 days. Both parents care for the chicks until the age of five months when they become independent
In the Danube Delta at this moment the species' situation is stable. The number of the mute swans is around 1000 nesting pairs.
The mute swan lives for nearly 20 years in the wild and 30 to 40 years in captivity.
Did you know that:
are the only birds with a penis?
sing only once in a lifetime, only when they die?
are strong? With one wing fluttering the swan can fracture an adult human hand?