olor [sig' nuhs O' lor]
Mute swans average around 57 to
60 inches in length, have a wingspan of from 6½
to 8 feet, and weigh between 20 and 29 pounds.
Males are generally larger than females.
The most distinguishing features of the
mute swan are a black "knob" at the
base up the upper bill and the color of the bill
itself, which is orange, with the tip and base
Mute swans breed in the British
Isles, north-central Europe, and north-central
Asia. They winter as far south as North Africa,
the Neart East, and to northwest India and Korea.
They live in well-sheltered bays, open marshes,
lakes, and ponds.
Contrary to the stereotype of
the "pining swan" who has lost its
mate, mute swans do not always pair for life. In
fact, some have been observed to have as many as
four mates in one breeding season, and there have
even been reports of a mute swan
"divorcing" one mate in favor of
another. Most mute swans, however, do form
monogamous pairs for at least one season, and
established pairs are more successful breeders
than non-established pairs.
Nest sites are selected and
breeding begins in March or April, depending on
geographic location and prevailing weather
conditions. The large nest is made of aquatic
vegetation and lined with feathers and down. It
is built well above the normal water level in
swamp places near a pond or lake.
Five to twelve pale gray to
pale blue-green eggs are laid, which are
incubated for 36 to 38 days. Although both sexes
share incubation duties, the female (pen)
does most of the sitting, while the male (cob)
stands guard. The chicks (cygnets) are
brownish gray and only remain in the nest for one
day. The male may take the first-hatched cygnet
to the water while the female incubates the
Cygnets fledge at about 60 days
but remain with their parents until the next
breeding season, at which time they are driven
away. They will spend the next couple of years
looking for suitable breeding territory and
searching for a mate.
Mute swans feed on aquatic
vegetation, aquatic insects, fish, and frogs.
genus & species Cygnus olor
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Cygnus_olor/
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