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Swan Facts

Beautiful and graceful, this animal is quite graceful to watch. 

Long associated with elegance, the swan symbolizes refinement and elegance.

Swans are large, majestic creatures with graceful movements. Monogamous pairs have been known to bond for many years. Swans have become a universal symbol of love and have formed a heart shape with their necks, showing their loyalty to their partners.

Swan Facts for Kids

  • The necks of swans are long and curved.
  • They have streamlined bodies and webbed feet.
  • A baby swan is called a cygnet
  • Swans live in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
  • A swan can weigh up to 30 pounds
  • They can live for 10 to 20 years
  • They mostly eat plants, although they do occasionally eat small aquatic animals.

Types of Swans

Mute swan

Mute Swans are found in lakes and ponds in urban habitats as well as coastal estuaries. The Mute Swan breeds in fresh, brackish, and saltwater ponds in the Pacific Northwest and from New England south to Virginia. 

Further inland, they breed in slow-moving streams, marshes, embayments, and rivers. Food shortages or extreme weather can push birds out of their territories and into ice-free expanses in lakes, rivers, estuaries, and the ocean.

Besides aquatic vegetation, they eat some animal prey, including frogs, tadpoles, fish, snails, mollusks, and insects. 

The plant diet includes eelgrass, as well as a number of types of pondweeds and algae, as well as wigeon grass, kelp, bladderwort, flowering grasses, and grains. 

Other things they eat include cracked corn, bread, lettuce, and produce trimmings from people. 

In a day, they can consume up to eight pounds of aquatic plants that they tear from the water with their snouts and strong bill muscles.

Black swan

The black swan is a native of Australia; however, you do find them in other parts of the world. While the swans appear mostly jet black, they actually have white primary feathers on their wings.

Swans are monogamous and often stay with one mate for life.

Most black swans move in flocks and nest in colonies. In times of food shortage, they are nomadic but typically sedentary.

They like temperate to tropical lakes, estuaries, swamps, and estuaries and prefer shallow water. 

As a result of their large size, they also need to be able to land and take-off from unobstructed waterways of at least 40 meters.

The adults have no predators. However, baby signets can fall prey to predators easily, such as cats, dogs, and even larger birds of prey.

Whooper swan

Whooper Swans live across Europe and Asia. 

They weigh between 9-11 kg. And are around 140-160 cm long with a wingspan of 205-235 cm.

A whooper swan has a more yellow bill than a Bewick’s swan. Its plumage is white and has the typical long neck of a swan.

They mostly eat leaves, stems, and roots of plants growing in water. Young birds eat insects and grains from the fields during the winter.

Trumpeter swan

Trumpeter Swans are big. Males average of 26 pounds in weight. They are  North America’s largest flying bird.

When they want to take off, they need at least 100m long open or stretch to ensure they are able to do this safely.

These birds are completely white, with a black bill and black legs.

It breeds in open habitat near shallow water bodies. During the winter, they spend time on estuaries, rivers, and large lakes that remain mostly ice-free. In the breeding season, they are territorial.

Tundra swan

yellow spot at the base. Their legs and feet are black.

You can observe Tundra Swans in winter on estuaries, coastal waters, and inland lakes.

The diet largely comprises stems, pondweeds, seeds, aquatic plants, and additionally a few small invertebrates.

In North America, they are often known as Whistling Swans.

Black-necked swan

This species of swan is native to South America.

Black-necked Swans are easily identified by their black head and neck and their white body. It is marked with a red knob at the base of its bill.

They live in a wide variety of wetlands, ranging from shallow lakes to coastal lagoons and harbors, often nesting close to people.

Where do they live?

Despite living mainly in the northern hemisphere, swans also live in Australia, New Zealand, and South America.

Most swans are found along lakes and rivers.

What do swans eat?

Swains living near freshwater will commonly eat tadpoles, milfoil, pondweed, stonewort, and wigeon grass.

Swans living on saltwater eat grasses like sea arrow grasses, salt marsh grasses, eelgrass, algae, as well as various insects and marine mollusks.

What do they look like?

Swans are known for being beautiful birds. Their white feathers and elongated necks stand out. They can weigh up to 30 pounds, measuring between 56 – 62 inches in length.

Is feeding bread bad for swans?

Bread does not necessarily pose a risk to swans if it is properly stored and not moldy. 

Can swans be over-fed?

Swans aren’t greedy creatures; they eat only what they need.

At what age do swans start mating?

Until the age of 4 years, swans are normally regarded as juveniles. Once it has found a mate, it often leaves the flock with the mate and heads off to find its own nesting territory. 

A territorial conflict can happen if another mating pair is close, which will force the losers to fight over another “patch.”

What time of year do swans breed?

Swans will usually mate any time between spring and summer with cygnets typically being born in May or July.

How long do swans sit on their eggs?

The egg-laying process begins after the nest has been built, which generally requires 2-3 weeks. 

Incubation begins at the same time as the eggs are laid, which can take from two to three weeks. Hatching typically happens 42 days later.

How long do swans sit on their eggs?

The egg-laying process begins after the nest has been built, which generally requires 2-3 weeks. 

Incubation begins at the same time as the eggs are laid, which can take from two to three weeks. Hatching typically happens 42 days later.

Learn More

Swan Sleeping

Swans are able to either sleep on land or in the water. They can either sleep standing or while floating.

The swan will sit on her eggs for 6 weeks or longer until they hatch, as she can lay up to 10 at a time.

Cygnets stay with their mothers for the first 6 months of life.

The Queen of England owns all the mute swans.

The swan is one of the biggest birds that can fly, and it only takes 30 yards to take off.

There are no significant differences between white and black swans except for their color.

Even though swans are gentle and defensive animals by nature, they have their moments of aggression, particularly if approached by people or animals during berating season.

Swans will vigorously protect their nests with their wings and beaks.