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Life in Freshwater

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)

Mute swan with aggressive attitude

A large water bird, around a metre and a half in length when it stands up. It has an orange/red bill which is black at the base. The male is usually slightly larger than the female. It has an arched neck and the wings are raised when swimming.

This is the only swan to be a widespread resident in Britain. Mostly inhabits inland waters and rivers, but can be found in salt water.

ECOLOGY: These birds are rarely colonial. The male (cob)and female (pen) usually nest on a bank or reed bed. The nest is made of reeds and other vegetation, and unlike ducks and geese the nest is made by both sexes. Three to eight eggs are laid and incubation lasts 35 days. After 120 days the young are as big as their parents. Their diet consists of aquatic vegetation and grass, and some small animals. They normally feeding in the shallows to gather food, up-ending the body withe the long neck helping them to gather the food from teh bottom. Compared to other swans this bird is very quiet, but will make various quiet grunts and hisses. In flight their wings make a loud throbbing sound. Most Mute Swans pair for the whole of their lives. The female of a pair moults after the young have hatched but it well after the female has regained her feathers that the male moults his. This is an adaptation so that there is always one of the pair available to defend themselves. The wings are very much the weapons used in defence.

 


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