It is extremely careful and avoids nesting near human settlements. Spends most of the time on the water, but where he is not disturbed, the mute sometimes comes ashore. He always spends the night in remote places of water bodies on rafts and old heaps of reeds. It is tolerant of other birds and sometimes settles near the nests of gray geese.
Areal. Distribution is sporadic, found in isolated areas in Central and Southern Europe and Asia from southern Sweden, Denmark and Poland in the west to Mongolia, Primorsky Krai and China in the east. Everywhere in this territory, it is extremely rare, a pair often nests from a pair at a huge distance, and in many areas it is absent altogether. In the USSR, it can be found somewhat more often only in the basin of the river. Ural and some lakes of Kazakhstan. In a semi-domesticated state, it is found in many parts of Europe.
The nature of the stay. Breeds, flies and hibernates on the territory of the USSR. As well as whooper, if he is not disturbed, the mute near its nesting sites keeps to the last opportunity and flies off only when the water bodies freeze completely. From the lower reaches of the Dniester, when the estuaries are frozen in ice, it moves to the Black Sea, returning as soon as possible, from the northern coasts of the Caspian it flies to its western and eastern shores and winters off its southwestern and southeastern coasts. It is common in winter on Lake Issyk-Kul and occurs in other large lakes of Central Asia. However, from a number of places, mute swans migrate for wintering far to the south and reach Northeast Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia Minor, Palestine, Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Baluchistan and even as single individuals as far as Northwest India. In the People's Republic of China and its eastern part, in winter, it was found in the region of Beijing and Chinjian.
Dates. From wintering grounds on the Caspian Sea, it begins to fly away from the second half of February, but on the eastern coast in the lower reaches of the Atrek it lingers until mid-March. Mute swans fly by day and night, when they can be recognized by the special whistle of their wings. The flock flies, lined up in an oblique line, their necks are extended, the cry in flight is muffled and hoarse.
Nesting places leave only after the young have risen on the wings, which in some areas coincides with the onset of autumn cold and frost. But in the south of the range, where mute swans hatch and molt earlier, they are forced under the influence of the beginning intensive hunting to fly away long before the onset of frost. They also fly along the eastern and western coasts of the Caspian. Mutees also regularly overwinter in the lower reaches of the Atrek and near its mouth.
On the western coast of the Caspian, mute mutees accumulate by the beginning of December in the area of the Agrakhan Gulf, by the middle of this month they move to the mouth of the river. Chickens are the main place of their wintering in the USSR. But even here their number is small. They are found either singly, then in pairs or families, and only in rare cases in flocks of up to 150 individuals.
Biotope... They inhabit large stagnant, inaccessible fresh and bitter-saline water bodies, the shallow shores of which are overgrown with large reeds, in places they are occupied by rafters among standing water bodies, where reeds are interspersed with stretches of clear water.
Everywhere, with the exception of the Ural basin and some Kazakhstani lakes, the mute swan is extremely rare and, therefore, settles at enormous distances between the pair and the pair, avoiding the proximity of human settlements. Where swans are not hunted, a pair from a pair can nest close.
In addition to direct persecution, which significantly reduces the population density of this bird, an indirect reason limiting the number of mute birds is also the early autumn cold snap, which even in Kazakhstan sometimes leads to the death of young animals that are still unable to rise on the wings.This is due to the late breeding of mutees. It is possible that, as a counterbalance to these unfavorable climatic conditions, mute swans have an increased number of eggs laid, more than our other swans. Swans die in winter from lack of food, as well as during flights on black oil puddles and lakes.
Reproduction. At the nesting sites, mutees appear in pairs, but due to the fact that increased persecution by humans leads to a breakdown of families, mutees have many single males, who try to beat off females from already established pairs. "In such cases, fierce fights between males are observed, Strong blows of wings to each other, and the stranger male is most often expelled. The instinct of reproduction begins to manifest itself at the age of three. Some of the females build a nest and lay one egg or, after completing the construction of the nest, do not lay at all. years.
During the mating season, the current postures and behavior of the male and female mute swans are very characteristic. At this time, the birds stay on the water next to each other. The male raises his wings and takes them somewhat to the sides and, together with the female, often plunges his head into the water, and then, having swum, braids her neck with his. After long games, the female finally plunges into the water so that only her head and neck are visible. At this point, mating occurs. After a short time, the birds emerge, emit special hoarse sounds and press their breasts against each other, then bathe and touch their feathers (Tugarinov, 1941).
Only the female incubates for about 35 days, the male is nearby, protects her, and when alarmed, the birds behave like whoopers. When the female descends to feed, she covers the clutch with material pulled from the sides of the nest. In such cases, the male sometimes sits on the nests on top of the material covering the eggs. In case of death of the first clutch, the second contains no more than two eggs.
A day after hatching, the downy jackets go into the water and stay in shallow areas nearby, where they feed on their own. Chicks are supervised by both parents on the water. The whole family swims together, and the female often warms up small chicks, giving them the opportunity to climb on her back (Menzbir, 1895). The family spends the night in the nest, and when the young grow up - on rafters or on an old broken reed. Chicks develop rather slowly. Mute swans die in unfavorable periods of the year much more often than other swans.
Molting... The molt of adult nesting birds, single and second years, apparently twice a year: in the summer, from about June to August, there is a complete change of the entire plumage and in the fall there is a partial molt of the contour and tail birds from the beginning of September to December, sometimes to January, but this requires more precise clarification. Young swans, after they put on the first outfit (nesting) and become summer ones, enter a partial fall-winter molt.
Dimensions and structure... Wing length 548-630 for males, 535-600 mm for females. The length of the beak from the outgrowth of males is 76-85, of females 73-80 mm (according to Schieler, with corrections). Weight 8-13 kg (Tugarinov, 1941) and up to 22.5 kg (Zanden, 1935). The upper edge of the nostrils forms an acute angle with the surface of the ridge of the beak. There is a large growth on the beak at the base of the forehead. The tail consists of 11-12 pairs of tail feathers, the outermost pair of which is 80-120 mm shorter than the middle one.
Down jacket. The dorsal side is brownish-gray, the ventral side and throat are off-white. The beak is blackish.
Young bird. In the first plumage it is brownish-gray with lighter, almost white, neck and throat. Flight feathers are white at the bases and grayish at the apices. Tail feathers are grayish-smoky with white tops. There is no outgrowth at the base of the beak, or it is only outlined. The bridle is feathered. The base of the beak is blackish, the rest of the beak is brownish-gray. After the first autumn molt, it is brownish-gray above, lighter below.After the second autumn molt, the bird is white, but the head, the upper side of the neck and coverts are grayish-brown. The bump at the base of the beak becomes larger. The beak is fleshy. The final white outfit is worn no earlier than after the third or fourth fall moult.
Adult male and female. Pure white. The bump (outgrowth), the bare bridle, the entire base of the beak, its ridge to the nostrils, the hollows of the latter and the edges of the mouth cut are black. The rest of the beak is red. Marigold black. Legs, toes and membranes are dull black. The eyes are brown. In the female, the lump is less developed.
Economic value. The sparseness of the mute swan populations and, in general, its relative rarity, makes fishing for it random and not very profitable. Mute swans are harvested in small numbers only at the moulting sites on the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea and on the Sea of Azov. They also catch wintering ones, weakened from lack of food. These swans are used for feathers and downy skins. Their meat is tasteless and tough. Everywhere it is subject to protection as a rare endangered species.
1. Birds of the Soviet Union. G. P. Dementyev, N. A. Gladkov, Yu. A. Isakov, N. N. Kartashev, S. V. Kirikov, A. V. Mikheev, E. S. Ptushenko. Moscow - 1952
2. Biology of game birds of the USSR. Vysshaya Shkola Publishing House, 1983, as amended
Description and features of the mute swan
The mute swan is a bird with a very bright, snow-white outfit: in the sunlight it literally dazzles. It can rightfully be considered the largest representative of the swan family - the length of an adult bird can be more than one and a half meters, and the wingspan reaches almost two and a half meters! Females are smaller and lighter than males.
It is not difficult to distinguish it from other types of swans, mute swan on the photo it can be seen that its long neck is bent in an S-shape, the wings are often raised upward, like sails.
The wingspan of a mute swan can reach 2 meters
Another characteristic feature of this bird is that when danger arises and the offspring are protected, the mute swan opens its wings, arches its neck and emits a loud hiss. Although the English version of its name in translation sounds like "Dumb Swan" - this does not quite reflect the reality. In addition to hissing, he can wheeze, whistle and snort.
Like some other species of swans, the mute swan has a dark, lumpy growth above its beak - and it is larger in males than in females.
This feature manifests itself only in adult sexually mature individuals. The beak is orange-red, from above, along the contour and the tip of the beak is black. Also, the paws are painted black together with the membranes.
Hunting for mute swans was once a popular trade, which negatively affected the population of these birds. In the middle of the last century, it was officially banned.
However, to this day, this is a rather rare bird that needs special protection. Pollution of water bodies due to oil and fuel oil leaks is very harmful to birds. They die, falling into oil and fuel oil puddles.
Mute swan included in Red Books some countries and certain regions of Russia. In Europe, swans are often fed, they get used to people and become almost tame.
Interesting facts about the mute swan
- For this bird to be able to take off, it needs a large enough space to take off. They cannot take off from land.
- There are legends about swan fidelity: if the female dies, the male flies up to a great height, falls down like a stone and breaks. However, this is not entirely true: swans do form stable families that persist throughout their life - they do not change partners. But still, if one of the couple dies, the second partner creates a new family, they do not live alone.
- In Great Britain, the swan has a special status: all the livestock of these birds belongs to the Queen personally and is under her special protection. In Denmark, it is recognized as the national bird and is one of its symbols.
The mute swan has a wide variety of habitats
This bird lives in the north of Europe and Asia. In smaller quantities, it can be found in Australia, North America. Previously, the swan was widespread in the Republic of Belarus, but at the end of the 19th century it was exterminated.
In Russia, it breeds almost everywhere, especially in the Pskov, Leningrad regions and the Far East. The swan goes to winter to the Caspian, Black Sea. As soon as spring comes, these birds fly home from their wintering places.
The mute swan spends more time swimming in the water
The mute swan is included in the Red Books of certain regions of Russia and some countries. The thing is that in the recent past this bird was hunted, which negatively affected its population. Since the middle of the 20th century, hunting for it has been strictly prohibited, but birds still die, swimming in polluted reservoirs with oil and fuel oil puddles.
The optimal factors for life are:
- proximity of reservoirs,
- dense vegetation, where the swan hides from strangers at night,
- remoteness from their own kind: swans live in pairs, and diligently avoids large groups of birds and humans.
What do they eat
Also, the mute swan can feed on small fish.
The main food is aquatic plants, small marine animals. They love molluscs, water donkeys, crustaceans. On land, they almost never eat, the exceptions are storms or floods, when small marine animals are washed ashore.
Bread is fatal to the life of a bird. It is better to feed it with slices of carrots, cabbage, a mixture of cereals.
Features of behavior
Noise annoys the swan and makes him aggressive
By nature, this bird is quite aggressive and irritable. Dislikes other birds and humans. Often, at the sight of strangers, it begins to flap its wings and hiss, driving it away from its territory.
This is a proud, arrogant creature that is almost impossible to tame. Likes to be in quiet, hard-to-reach places.
This bird is susceptible to various diseases:
- Arthritis. Appears after an injury or infection. The swan's temperature rises greatly, the joints swell. Because of the pain, the swan cannot move quickly.
- Inflammation of the coccygeal gland. It is very simple to recognize: the swan becomes dirty, the plumage darkens. The bird constantly touches the place under the tail with its beak, it can hiss and wheeze from painful sensations.
- Salmonellosis. Bacteria enter the bird's body along with food, affecting the entire gastrointestinal tract. The swan refuses to eat, becomes lethargic, inactive.
- Leeches. Often, leeches become the source of troubles, which the bird picks up while swimming in reservoirs. They parasitize in the beak or pharynx, causing discomfort. The swan becomes restless, anxious. He tries to get rid of leeches, often cleans his beak.
In order for the bird to remain healthy, it needs clean water in the reservoir, proper feeding, avoiding swampy reservoirs, where leeches often live.
Little chicks love to swim on their mother's back
Such swans reach sexual maturity late - only by the age of four. An excellent breeding season is mid to late March. The male looks after the female beautifully: he swims around her, spreads his wings, does everything so that she will notice him. He turns his head and if the female noticed him, the swans intertwine their necks, spend all the time together.
When mating has taken place, the female begins to build the nest. At this time, the male makes sure that no one penetrates their territory. Swans prefer to go far from strangers, choosing places in dense thickets.
It is known that young birds that nest for the first time have only 2 eggs. Experienced females give about 10 eggs, but the average number of offspring does not exceed 5-6.
The female incubates eggs herself, only sometimes being distracted by the search for food. After 35 days, offspring hatch from the eggs.From the first days, the cubs are completely independent: they can eat, swim, but their parents carefully monitor them, protecting them from danger.
How long does a mute swan live?
On average, these birds live about 28-30 years. However, in difficult living conditions and with the transfer of diseases, life expectancy is reduced by several years.
Appearance and habitat
Mute swan (Cygnus olor) - this is a stately beautiful bird with pure white plumage, its body length reaches 180 cm, the weight of females is 5.5-6 kg, males are 8-13 kg, wingspan is up to 240 m.
Mute swans are widespread in the northern part of Europe and Asia. They are rare everywhere, but with the help of humans, this species of swan has successfully taken root in North America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Mutees inhabit large stagnant, inaccessible fresh and bitter-saline water bodies, the shallow banks of which are overgrown with large reeds, in places they are occupied by rafters among standing water bodies, where reeds are interspersed with stretches of clear water.
Behavior and reproduction
The nest is built by the female in inaccessible dense thickets of reeds, usually on a heap of old fallen plant debris. The diameter of the nest reaches 110 cm, and the height is 75 cm. In a clutch there are 3 to 9 eggs, it is mainly incubated by the female for 30-35 days, the male can replace it, but not for long. But he is constantly next to the nest, protecting it from enemies and competitors. This strong bird can offer fierce resistance even to humans: bending its neck backwards, the swan lifts its half-spread wings, hisses and painfully hits the enemy with its strong wings, and can pinch strongly. The chicks born the next day are able to follow their parents. Chicks often travel on the back of their parents. The family usually spends the night in the nest, and when the young grow up - on rafts or on old broken reeds. Chicks develop rather slowly. At the age of two months, the chicks begin to learn to fly.
The food of mute swans consists of underwater parts of plants, the roots, rhizomes and shoots of which these swans tear off in shallow places in the water with their beak. To do this, they stand on the water, like ducks, vertically with their tail up, and head down, and reach the bottom with their beak. In a small amount, swans eat various small aquatic invertebrates. Chicks feed on the pop-up torn off parts of plants.
Mute swan appearance
The female is on the nest.
Mute swans grow up to 1.4-1.6 meters in length, but some individuals may have a body length of 1.7 meters.
The wingspan varies from 2 to 2.4 meters. Mute swans are one of the largest and heaviest flying birds. The largest male was recorded in Poland, he weighed 23 kilograms. And the average weight is about 12 kilograms in males and about 9 kilograms in females.
Mute swans have white plumage. The beak has a black outgrowth at the base, and it itself is red. Swans have a long neck. In general, the bird is graceful and beautiful.
A pair of mutees is formed once.
Behavior and nutrition of the mute swan
When mutees are angry, they hiss, thanks to this, swans acquired their name. These strong birds show an increased level of aggression when protecting their offspring and clutch. With its powerful beak, a mute can severely injure an enemy.
These birds feed mainly on plant food - algae and other types of aquatic plants. In winter, swans eat cereals.
Swans are graceful birds.
The total population around the world is about 500 thousand individuals, with 350 thousand living in Russia. A very large population is concentrated in the Volga delta. About 30 thousand individuals live in the UK. And in other countries, mute swans are much smaller.
In the 80s of the XX century, lead poisoning caused serious damage to the population. Lead was used as fishing weights, but over time, less toxic analogues appeared, and therefore the population began to grow rapidly.But in some countries, for example, in Belarus, mute swans are listed in the Red Book.
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