T.E.R:R.A.I.N - Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network

Swan (Mute) Cygnus olor

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Species: C. olor
Binomial name: Cygnus olor
Synonyms: Anas olor, Sthenelides olor, Cygnus immutabilis
Common name: Mute swan.

Cygnus olor (Mute swan) is a species of swan and a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae. It is native to much of Europe and Asia and now found worldwide. It was introduced to New Zealand in 1866 and is now naturalised. Due to habitat loss, there are perhaps only 100 in the wild. They can be found in the Hawkes Bay, North Canterbury wetlands, Lake Ellesmere, also in town parks. 
This large swan is white in plumage with an orange bill bordered with black. It is recognisable by its pronounced black knob atop the bill, this is larger in the males. Adults of this large swan typically range from 140 to 160 cm long, with a > 240 cm wingspan. The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds with a large male weighing >15 kg.

Mute swans nest on large mounds that they build with waterside vegetation in shallow water on islands in the middle or at the very edge of a lake. The female lays an average of four eggs and the female broods for 36 days. The hatched cygnets do not reach the ability of flight before an age of 120 to 150 day.  Mute swans are monogamous and often reuse the same nest each year, restoring or rebuilding it as needed. Male and female swans share the care of the nest, and once the cygnets are fledged it is not uncommon to see whole families looking for food. They feed on a wide range of vegetation, both submerged aquatic plants which they reach with their long necks, and by grazing on land.


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