The Mute Swan
Mute swans are a classic British bird, they are probably one of the most well known, recognisable birds. They can be found throughout the UK in slow rivers, shallow lakes, marshes and sheltered coasts. They nest beside the water and can lay anything between 5 to 8 eggs. Both the males and females help with the responsibility of looking after the nest. Many pairs of Mute swans stay together for life, they are a monogamous species.
Mute swans are stunning to look at, they are extremely elegant and graceful but don’t let that fool you, they are also very strong and powerful birds. They can be aggressive if they feel their nest is threatened, and they will defend their young fearlessly. It is not wise to mess with a Mute swan protecting it’s young it’s usually the males that get particularly aggressive. Male Mute swans are called cobs and the females are called pens, they males are a little bit larger than the females.
Baby Mute swans are not born white, they begin life a browny grey colour until their first winter when they start to get white feathers. Adult Mute swans have long ‘S’ shaped necks and bright orange bills. They can be distinguished from the Berwick’s Swan and Whooper swan by their black markings on the base of the bill. They are one of the heaviest flying birds, some weighing in at up to 12 kilograms. Due to their weight they find it difficult to take off, they have to take off from water to get into their air successfully.
The population of Mute swans did suffer a few years back but it is currently on the increase, thanks to the species being protected. Thankfully, swans are highly protected as it is an offence to interfere with them, their eggs or their nests. Mute swans eat aquatic vegetation such as water plants as well as some insects. Their long neck helps them reach down and get plants and vegetation hidden underwater. Mute swans are the quietest type of swan but they are not actually mute, they will make noises when threatened such as hissing and snorting, but in general they are fairly quiet birds.