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!

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Overview

Picture of mute swans and their cygnetsOrder: Anseriformes

Family: Anatidae

Species: Cygnus olor

IUCN Status: Least Concern

Population trend: increasing

Distribution: found throughout England, Wales and Ireland. Also in a few areas across northern Europe, eastwards to Mongolia. Introduced to North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Habitat: large freshwater areas, such as rivers, lakes and canals. Also estuaries, especially in winter.

Description: adults all white; young are grey to begin with, and develop brown feathers which they keep until their second year. Reddish-orange bill, with a black knob of skin at the base.

Size: length:- 1.5m. Wingspan:- 2.25m. Weight:- male, 10kg, female, 8kg.

Life-span: most swans do not live more than 7 years in the wild. They can live up to 50 years.

Food: underwater plants, grasses and cereal crops.

 

 

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