The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is a Eurasian waterfowl that lives across Europe into southern Russia and China. It is called mute because it is not as vocal as other species of swans.
The Mute Swan is white with an orange or orange-yellow beak that is bordered with black. It has black legs.
Birds do not have teeth, but the swan has serrated edges that look like teeth. They are plates called lamellae. The lamellae are useful for sifting water for plants and algae, and also frogs, worms, snails and small fish.
It grows to 125-170 centimetres (49-67 inches) tall. It is the second largest waterfowl (the Trumpeter Swan is the largest), and it is one of the heaviest flying birds.
A male swan is called a cob. Male and female Mute Swans mate for life. They build their nest near water. They aggressively defend their nest from intruders. They have bony spurs (outgrowths) in their wings to hit predators with, or they will bite an intruder, or chase them away. Their most common predators are coyotes and bears.
Mute Swans lay 4-10 eggs, and the female broods for around 36 days. Young swans, called cygnets, are not white; they are grey or buff-coloured with grey-black beaks for the first year of their life.
[Location of photographs: London, England; Paris, France; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan]
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM