The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is one of the largest of the waterfowl, and one of the most beautiful.
The mute swan can be up to 155cm long with a wingspan of 200-240cm. It can grow up to 15kg, but normal weight is around 9kg for females and 11kg for males.
The adult has an all white plumage, sometimes with a yellowish tone, black feet and a orange/red beak with a black knob at the root. The knob is noticeably larger in the male.
The young are born with a grey, downy plumage that is gradually replace by brown feathers, that slowly turn white in the first 1-1½ years. The beak is grey.
In flight the neck is extended, but it is bent in a graceful S-shape when swimming.
The mute swan is usually silent, but it can make a hissing sound if it feel threatened.
The main population is around the Baltic Sea with large populations also in the British Isles, the Netherlands and Southern Norway. There are smaller populations on the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It is mostly nonmigratory.
The mute swan lives near water, such as in lakes, moors and shallow waters with ample vegetation along the banks. It is often found it city parks and can be quite tolerant of human presence.
The mute swan feeds exclusively on vegetation it finds in the water or on the banks. Each couple requires a fairly large territory that it defends from other swans and sometimes also from other aquatic birds.
Breeding starts at the age of three. In the late spring the mute swan makes a huge nest where 3-7 eggs are laid. They hatch after 35 days. The mute swan is very protective of its nest and offspring and can be very aggressive towards intruders. It is capable of delivering a strong blow with its wings, but rarely bites.
At times the mute swan nests in colonies if the feeding possibilities permits it and good nesting sites are limited.
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