The Mute Swan is one of the largest and heaviest flying birds. They are all white with a slight yellow-orange tinge on top of the head, orange-red beak which has a black tip, the legs and feet are black, and they have a distinctive black knob above the beak which is much larger on the male (Cob) than the slightly smaller female (Pen). The cygnets are grey-brown with grey legs and beak.
Size: – Typical Adult is 49-67 inches.
Food: – Aquatic plants, sedges, pond-weed which they can reach with their long necks, and they will also graze on grass when out of water. They will also eat more animal matter than any other swan such as insect larvae, tadpoles, small fish, small frogs, and molluscs.
Habitat: – Lakes, rivers, canals, parks, ponds in temperate zone in UK, Europe, into Russia, and Asia Minor.
Breeding Season: – Late April to early May. They typically stay close to their nesting area and separate from other broods and non-breeding swans for the first couple of months after hatching. Cygnets can fly at about 4-5 months of age and are considered “juveniles” at that time. On average, only 3 cygnets per breeding pair survive to juvenile age.
Eggs: – 4 to 7 (greyish-white color).
Notes: – This Swan is the largest species of Swan and also the least vocal which is how it came by its name. However, you can hear a distinctive throbbing sound from its powerful wings during flight which is unique to its species and can be heard from up to a mile away.
This Swan is also known for being very protective and aggressive.
During the nesting and brood rearing-periods they are very territorial. Both males and females are aggressive toward people and other waterfowl within their nesting area. Sometimes their behavior is so aggressive that they will drive other waterfowl out of areas where the swans are nesting. Reports of swan attacks on people, especially small children and users of personal watercraft, are common. Because of this, waters occupied by breeding swans are often unusable to people during the nesting and brood-rearing periods. Aggression among swans also occurs, especially when an adult male with a nest or brood encounters another male. In these instances both males raise their wings and fluff their feathers, known as “busking” (also part of the mating ritual), and begin twirling in place; a ritual that appears more like a dance than a fight.
Downy young Mute Swans (called cygnets) come in two color morphs: a gray form and a white form. The gray (or “Royal”) chicks start off with gray down and grow in gray-brown and white feathers, giving them a mottled look. White (or “Polish”) chicks have all white down and Juvenal feathers. Adults of the white morph may have pink or gray legs and feet instead of black, but otherwise the adults look alike.
They ares reported to mate for life. However, changing of mates does occur infrequently, and swans will re-mate if their partner dies. If a male loses his mate and pairs with a young female, she joins him on his territory. If he mates with an older female, they go to hers. If a female loses her mate, she re-mates quickly and usually chooses a younger male.