For centuries, mute swans were known as 'birds royal' because only the king or a few specially favoured subjects could keep them. They were often served up, roasted, at banquets - a roast swan must have required a very large plate!

Food and feeding

An adult swan eats about 4kg of aquatic vegetation every day. It reaches these underwater plants by plunging its long neck into the water, or 'upending', tail in the air. To help with the digestion of these plants in its gizzard, or second stomach, the swan swallows grit which grinds up the food.

As well as eating water plants, the swan may also graze on grasses and grains it finds in fields of cereal crops. Sometimes it may eat small fish, frogs and insects. Swans in parks enjoy bread offered by human visitors - in fact, bread is often the main part of these swans' diet.

Read More: Breeding