Monday, May 17, 2010

Mute Swans

Mute Swans were introduced to North America from Eurasia in the 1800's as an ornamental bird, but now they can be found here in great numbers.  These elegant birds can be detrimental to other species of waterfowl because of their large numbers and voracious appetite.  The aptly named Mute Swan is less vocal than other swan species; however they will make many different noises such as grunting, whistling and hissing. 

Mute Swans can be easily distinguished from other species of swans from their orange bill and large protruding black knob above the bill. 

Mute Swans construct large nests in shallow water using aquatic vegetation.  The nest in the picture below was constructed from cattails.

Mute Swans usually lay 5-8 eggs per clutch; however as many as 11 eggs have been recorded.

Young swans are called cygnets.  I counted a total of seven in this nest and was lucky enough to watch one hatch from its egg!  Even though the Mute Swan is an invasive species, it's a fascinating and beautiful bird that I enjoyed observing in the wild.

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