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Sunday Fun Bird Facts

This post is sponsored by SAASA and Birds of Eden

Fun Facts about Swans

SWANS – fun facts

1 – Swans love for their partners is so deeply that they usually mate for life. “Divorce” does, however, sometimes occur, particularly following nesting failure, and if a mate dies, the remaining swan will take up with another. The “divorce rate” is estimated to be about 6%.

2 - Black swans are native to Australia. There are six to seven species of swan called the Black-necked Swan, Black Swan, Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, Tundra swan which includes the Bewick’s Swan and Whistling Swan, and the Whooper Swan. In addition, there is another species known as the Coscoroba Swan, although this species is no longer considered one of the true swans. We have Black and Mute Swans at Birds of Eden. Despite their name, Mute Swans are anything but silent. Their courtship "dance" is accompanied by a range of hissing and grunting sounds.

3 - The largest species, including the Mute Swan, Trumpeter Swan, and Whooper Swan, can reach a length of over 1.5 meters (59 inches) and weigh over 15 kilograms (33 pounds). Their wingspans can be over 3.1 meters (10 feet). Noted for their graceful movements in the water, they have been the subject of many poems, fairy tales, legends, and musical compositions.

4 - Cygnophobia or kiknophobia is the fear of swans.

5 - Swans are highly intelligent and remember who has been kind to them, or not.

6 - The swan song is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement. The phrase refers to an ancient belief that swans sing a beautiful song in the moment just before death, having been silent (or alternatively, not so musical) during most of their lifetime. This idea that swans only sing when they are dying, the so-called swan song, is a myth.

7 - Swans fly in a V-shaped formation when flying in groups. They can fly up to 95 km/h (60 mph), although 30 to 50 km/h (19 – 31 mph) is the norm.

8 - Did you know that the Queen of England owns all the unclaimed mute swans in all of Britain? Well, she does, and she makes sure to count them every year in the third week of July. It’s called the Swan Upping, and it's just as amazing as you might think. This tradition started because in the olden days Swans were mainly seen as a source of food. The ceremony most likely began in the 12th century, when the Crown claimed all unclaimed mute swans. At that time, the birds were considered a delicacy reserved for the banquets and feasts of the wealthy; today (thankfully), the birds aren't on the plate, but the ceremony continues. The organisers of this Swan Upping is called the Queen’s Swan Marker. The Swan Marker is responsible not just for organising the event but also keeping tabs on swan welfare across the country, a role David Barber has been performing since 1993. Only once in her 63-year reign - in 2009 - has Queen Elizabeth II participated. Still, because she's owner of all the swans, she gets a name befitting her station: Seigneur of the Swans.

9 - Swans in general have the largest eggs of any bird capable of flight.

10 - Swan parents will carry cygnets on their back while swimming, enabling the parents to regain weight lost to the rigors of mating, egg laying, incubation, simultaneous feeding, and brooding. This practice also provides protection for the downy cygnets. Swans are known to have a "triumph ceremony". These occur when a male attack a rival suitor, then returns to his potential mate to perform an elaborate ceremony while posturing and calling.

Come back next week for more exciting fun facts from SAASA on Lets Go Big Tunes blog page

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