Things You Need to Know About Mute Swans
How much do you know about Mute Swans? In this video I take a closer look at, and share some amazing swan facts you might not already know. There are a lot of beliefs surrounding these birds and in this video I show if there is any truth: Can swans die from heartbreak, can swans break your arm, do swans only sing when they are nearing death and lots more.
Here is the full script from the video, I hope you enjoy it:
If you have ever been very close to a mute swan, especially if you were sitting on the ground, you would know that they are huge. Male birds can grow to weights of more than fourteen kilograms and this makes them the fifth heaviest flying birds in the world. They can achieve this as they have equally impressive wings, each of which can measure almost 4 foot in length.
If you’re a big bird, the chances are that you will also lay big eggs. With Mute swans this is the case. Each egg is around 12 centimeters long, 7cm wide and can weight upto 350 grams. To put that into perspective, each swan egg would be about equal to 7 standard chicken eggs!
Male swans are called Cobs and females are called Pens. Males get their name from the old Germanic word knobf which means knob and relates to the raised black bump at the base of their beaks. Both sexes have these but they are often more pronounced and swollen looking in the males. Just why females are called pens isn’t quite so clear. Some sources suggest that it comes from their habit of holding their wings back which creates a pen between them, whereas other sources suggest it may come from the old Italian word pen which means feather or quill, and is how penne pasta got its name.
If I had a pound for every time someone had told me that swans can break your arm with a single flap of their wing, I would have about 12pound fifty by now! Mute swans do have very powerful wings but there are no records of them ever breaking a persons arm. Apparently, a swan attack in Northern Ireland did lead to a man having a broken leg, but I suspect that was down to him falling rather than being hit by the swan. Swans do have a bony growth where their wrists would be, and as I have been hit by several, I can tell you it does hurt, quite a bit.
Another myth about swans is that they are all owned by the queen. It is true that most of the free roaming swans in the country are owned by her majesty but there are three other swan owners. These are the Ilchester family who own Abbotsbury swannery in Dorset and the Vinters and Dyers companies who both own swans on the river Thames in London. These swans are counted and marked in an annual swan upping event. This marking used to involve cutting a small nick into the birds beak, but I’m not sure if this is still the case. Hopefully not.
Mute swans can live up to 20 years in the wild and can form pair from 2 years of age. These pairs stay together as a monogamous couple throughout their lives unless one of the pair dies. When this happens, the remaining bird does not die from heartbreak as is often suggested but will usually go on to happily find a new mate.
Have you ever heard the saying a swan song? This comes from the belief that swans only sing when they are nearing death. This is of course not true and despite Mute swans being called mute, they can produce a variety of noises including grunts and hisses, throughout their lives. Young mute swans are called cygnets and they can also make noises, but these are more peeps and cheeps than grunts and hisses.
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