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Mute Swan

Mute Swan

Larger version
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Species: olor
Binomial name
Cygnus olor

The Mute Swan, Cygnus olor, is a common Eurasian member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae. This species is often kept in captivity, and descendants of such birds have become naturalised in the eastern United States.

This bird is found naturally mainly in temperate areas of Europe and western Asia. It is not migratory, although eastern populations must move in winter when the lakes freeze.

This huge swan is one of the heaviest flying birds. Its size, red bill and white plumage make it almost unmistakable. The most similar species is Whooper Swan[?], but that has a yellow and black bill, and lacks the curved "swan" neck.

Young birds, called "cygnets" are brown rather than white, and lack the bright red bill

Mute Swans nest on large mounds that they build in the middle of a shallow lake. These monogamous birds reuse the same nest each year, restoring or rebuilding it as needed. Male and female swans share the care of the nest, and once the cygnets are fledged it is not uncommon to see whole families looking for food. They feed on submerged aquatic vegetation, reached with their long bills.

Although this bird can be tame, it is aggressive in defence of its nest, and its size and impressive hissing make it a formidable adversary for animals as large as a Fox. Unlike Black Swans, Mute Swans are strongly territorial. The familiar pose with neck curved back and wings half raised is a threat display.

Despite its name, this bird can make a variety of hisses and grunts, but it is certainly much less vocal than the noisy Whooper[?] and Bewick's Swans. The most familiar sound associated with Mute Swan is the whistling of the wings in flight once this bird has laboriously taken off from the water.

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