Swans are big birds. They can swim well and fly far. In most adult animals, the plumage is pure white. In the juveniles it is grey-brown.
Depending on the census, there are seven or eight different types of swans. Swans are closely related to ducks and geese. Here in Central Europe we mainly meet the mute swan.
The mute swan lives where it is neither too hot nor too cold. We often find it in our waters. Far north, on the arctic tundra, four other species breed in summer. They spend the winter in the warmer south. So they are migratory birds. There are two species in the southern hemisphere that also look special: the black swan is the only one that is completely black. The name of the black-necked swan explains what it looks like.
Swans have longer necks than geese. This allows them to eat plants from the bottom well when they are floating on the water. This type of foraging is called “digging”. Their wings can stretch out over two meters. Swans weigh up to 14 kilograms.
Swans prefer to eat plants out of the water. But they also feed on plants in the countryside. There are also a few aquatic insects, and mollusks such as snails, small fish, and amphibians.
How do swans reproduce?
A pair of parents stay true to themselves for the rest of their lives. It’s called monogamy. They build a nest for the eggs, which they use again and again. The male collects twigs and hands them to the female, who uses them to build the nest. Everything inside is padded with soft plants. Then the female plucks out part of her own down. So it needs its softest feathers for the padding.
Most females lay four to six eggs, but there can be as many as eleven. The female incubates the eggs alone. The male-only helps with the black swan. The incubation period is almost six weeks. Both parents then raise the young. Sometimes they piggyback the boys on their backs.