Closely related to ducks and geese, the swan is a large water bird belonging to family Cygnus and known for their graceful movements when swimming.
Swans have a fierce temperament and incredibly strong wings which are capable of dangerous (sometimes fatal) injuries to predators. A group of wild swans is known as a herd. A group in captivity are called a fleet. Swans can fly as fast as 60 miles per hour!
A juvenile swan normally lives as part of a flock until it is about 4 years old. Then it seeks a mate, usually from the flock it’s living in, and heads off with the mate to find their own mating territory.
Click below for a slideshow of Swan pictures
Swans mate for life though ‘divorce’ does sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure. Swans even touch beaks to kiss. When they kiss, their necks form a heart.
Swans form nests near the water’s edge made of mats of reeds and plants. Their eggs are about 4 inches long. When the babies, known as cygnets, are born, they can swim immediately.
Swans live everywhere but Africa and Antarctica. Swans in Australia and South America are black or black and white. The Australian black swan has been noted to only swim with one leg, the other being tucked above it’s tail. There are around 7 different species of swan found around the world. Swans eat seaweed and aquatic plants, seeds and berries, also insects, and the occasional small fish.
The lifespan of a swan is about 15 years. Due to their large size, swans have few natural predators in the wild. However predators of the swan include wolves, raccoon and foxes. They prey both on the swan itself but also on it’s eggs.
Today swans are a threatened species mainly due to hunting, habitat loss and water pollution.