Length: 50-59 in Weight: 12-30 lbs
Distinguished from other swans by a vivid orange bill. A large white bird with black feet and a black mask. Often swims with its neck in an S-shape and its wings slightly raised, giving the back a frilled appearance.
Not native to the United States, but wild populations are now established throughout the continent, particularly along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes. Captive birds are commonly seen in parks.
Mute swans are viewed in many cultures as a symbol of love, and are the classic swan featured in many ballets, fairy tales, and even the classic story of The Ugly Duckling.
Though many people would consider Mute Swans to be a beautiful addition to any pond, their aggressive nature frequently causes problems for native species, and they can even be a danger to humans who get too close.
Fresh Off the (Science) Press:
Exotic Mute Swans can potentially impact native waterfowl by depleting food resources (Mute Swans can eat up to 8 pounds of aquatic vegetation a day!), or through their aggressively territorial behavior (Gayet et al. 2014). However, Mute Swans do not always have detectable negative impacts on the ponds they call home (Gayet et al. 2016), and many members of the general public are opposed to active swan management (particularly of the lethal variety) due to their cultural value (Jager et al. 2016). All these factors make Mute Swan management an ongoing challenge.
Make your own bird cookies!
Gayet, G, G Matthieu, D du Rau Pierre, G Patrick. 2014. Effects of mute swans on wetland: a synthesis. Hydrobiologia 723: 195-204.
Gayet, G, C Calenge, J Broyer, F Mesleard, V Vaux, H Fritz, M Guillemain. 2016. Analysis of spatial point pattern shows no desertion of breeding mute swan areas by the other waterbirds within fishpond. Acta Ornithologica 51: 151-162.
Jager, C, MP Nelson, L Goralnik, ML Gore. Michigan mute swan management: a case study to understand contentious natural resource management issues. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 21: 189-202.