The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a species of swan and a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae. It is native to much of Eurasia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. It is an introduced species in North America, Australasia, and southern Africa. The name ‘mute’ derives from it being less vocal than other swan species. Measuring 125 to 170 cm (49 to 67 in) in length, this large swan is wholly white in plumage with an orange beak bordered with black. It is recognizable by its pronounced knob atop the beak, which is larger in males. [Wikipedia]
The exotic Mute Swan is the elegant bird of Russian ballets and European fairy tales. This swan swims with its long neck curved into an S and often holds its wings raised slightly above its back. Although they’re numerous and familiar in city parks and in bays and lakes in the Pacific Northwest, Great Lakes, Northeast, and Mid-Atlantic, Mute Swans are not native to North America. Their aggressive behavior and voracious appetites often disturb local ecosystems, displace native species, and even pose a hazard to humans. [All About Birds]
Mute Swan Facts [All About Birds]
- Mute Swans form long-lasting pair bonds. Their reputation for monogamy along with their elegant white plumage has helped establish them as a symbol of love in many cultures.
- Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Ugly Duckling chronicles the woes and triumphs of a young, Mute Swan that hatches in a clutch of duck eggs but goes on to become a beautiful swan. Some speculate that the book was based on Andersen’s own less-than-handsome looks as a youngster.
- The black knob at the base of the male Mute Swan’s bill swells during the breeding season and becomes noticeably larger than the female’s. The rest of the year the difference between the sexes is not obvious.
- Based on banding records, the oldest known Mute Swan in North America was a male and at least 26 years, 9 months old when he was found in Rhode Island, the same state where he had been banded.