Swans belong to the avian family, Anatidae. In a biological session, they are called by the genus term, Cygnus. This species of animals have characteristic white colors with long necks shooting out from their feathery hunchbacks. A younger member of the family is referred to, as a swanling or cygnet. An adult male is called a cob, and an adult female, a pen.
Swans are known to be the largest genus of waterbirds/waterfowls in the Anatidae family. They also bear record, as one of the largest flying birds. There are at least six classes/types of swans known, namely:
- Mute Swan: This specie is the commonest in Europe and Asia.
- Black Swan: They are common in the southeastern and southwestern parts of Australia
- Black-necked Swan: They are peculiar to southern America’s topography.
- Whooper Swan: The migratory birds can travel far distances, usually at the arrival of winter. They are found mostly in Eurasia.
- Tundra Swan: Forms the subgenus name for the Bewick’s and Whistling swans. These species breed in the Arctic. Tundra swans migrate to North America’s Pacific and Atlantic’s coastline, and to some parts of Europe and Asia at the arrival of winter.
- Trumpeter Swan: Common in North America.
The life cycle of Swans
The developmental and life stages outlined below talks generally about any average swan, irrespective of the specie, except if there is a mention, otherwise.
Egg laying starts about 2 weeks after creating a nest niche. A swan lays eggs that go from 3 to 12 in number (it can be slightly more). However, the older a pen (female swan) gets, the lesser the number of eggs it is able to produce. Eggs are laid at intervals, between 12-24 hours. After laying, incubation is done within the period of 6 weeks. On some occasions, incubation takes longer than 6 weeks, if the pen notices the sign of life in the shells.
A cygnet leaves its parents once it lips 6 months. After several months, the parents chase out the swanling, sometimes, in aggressive ways and fights. It is a way to tell the younger one that it can look after itself. Once away from its parent, a cygnet finds a flock to stay with, as a member, until 4 years. After 4 years, a swan is considered mature. It seeks a mate and the new couple starts seeks their own territory. A swan domain is known as a patch.
Settling and Marking Territories
A pair of swan (mates) scouts for areas where they would dwell and breed. If the couple happens to be in a territory to discover another pair had already been there, there are fights, usually, in the defense of the territory. The defeated pair sets out to look for another territory.
Partners and Mating
A swan picks a mating partner, and they go to establish their own territory. These mates stay together for life, faithfully. However, there has been a handful number of divorce noted, usually because of unfavorable nesting conditions. If one of the mates dies, the other gets a new mate and continues its life. Mating occurs from around spring to summer.
Eggs hatch in 6 weeks. A cygnet stops being attached to a pen after 6 months. A cygnet joins a new group between 8 to 13 months. A family is formed after a swan has existed for 4 years. On the average, A span lives up 20 years, for a wild life. However, in an enclosed area, a swan could live up to 30 years. In North America, a trumpeter was known to live up to 33 years.
Swans feed on grains, fresh flour meals such as bread, seaweeds, lettuce, and spinach. Feeding mode can vary from one specie to another.
Note: Avoid feeding swans with spoilt food. Mould is detrimental to a swan’s health. Feed swans on water, to help their digestion process.
- Swans live in groups called flocks, of varying sizes.
- They migrate as winter approaches, and they become restless.
- They feed more in the spring.
- They are territorial and could get violent at such times, against competitors of the same specie or invaders of a different species. Swans are known to have loyal life partners.
- They are loyal to their mates.
- They have strong wings, which are very powerful when stretched at full lengths.
- They need about a space of 30 yards to get prepared for their flights.