Five groups that classify all living things
A group of animals within the animal kingdom
A group of animals within a pylum
A group of animals within a class
A group of animals within an order
A group of animals within a family
The name of the animal in science
The animal group that the species belongs to
What kind of foods the animal eats
How long (L) or tall (H) the animal is
|91cm - 150cm (36in - 60in)|
The measurement from one wing tip to the other
|200cm - 350cm (79in - 138in)|
The measurement of how heavy the animal is
|10kg - 15kg (22lbs - 33lbs)|
The fastest recorded speed of the animal
How long the animal lives for
|8 - 12 years|
Whether the animal is solitary or sociable
The likelihood of the animal becoming extinct
The colour of the animal's coat or markings
|Black, White, Grey, Orange|
The protective layer of the animal
The preferred food of this animal
The specific area where the animal lives
|Large, shallow wetlands and open water|
|Average Clutch Size:|
The average number of eggs laid at once
The food that the animal gains energy from
|Aquatic Plants, Insects, Small Fish|
Other animals that hunt and eat the animal
|Human, Wolf, Raccoon|
Characteristics unique to this animal
|Large, powerful wings and webbed feet|
The swan is a large aquatic bird closely related to geese and ducks. The swan is known for its fierce temperament and the swans incredibly strong wings which are said to be able to cause dangerous (sometimes fatal) injuries to any animal the swan feels threatened by.
The swan is found on both sides of the Equator across the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. The northern swan is generally white in colour with an orange beak and the southern swan tends to be a mixture of white and black in colour with red, orange or black beaks.
The Australian black swan has been noted to only swim with one leg, the other being tucked above its tail. This helps the swan to change direction more smoothly when the swan is swimming on the surface of the water, should the swan spot food or even an oncoming predator.
Swans are omnivorous birds but have a very vegetarian diet. Swans eat underwater vegetation such as seaweed and aquatic plants when they are on the water and a mixture of plants, seeds and berries when they are on land. Swans also eat insects both water and land-based and the occasional small fish.
Due to their large size, swans have few natural predators in the wild. The swan's main predator is the human who hunts the swan for its meat and its feathers. Other predators of the swan include wolves, raccoons and foxes they prey both on the swan itself but also on its eggs.
Although swans do not mate for life, couples establish strong bonds between one another and can often mate for a few years. Swans build their nests on land out of twigs and leaves, and the female swan lays between 3 and 9 eggs. The baby swans (known as cygnets) hatch out of their eggs after an incubation of just over a month. The cygnets are often on the water with their mother swan within a couple of days and stay close to her for both protection and warmth. The mother swan will guard her baby swans furiously from predators or any animal that she believes is a threat.
Swans have many adaptations in order to successfully survive life on the water such as their streamline body shape, long neck and webbed feet. The wings of the swan are also very strong meaning that the swan is one of the few heavy birds that is able to fly, even if it is only a short distance.
Today swans are a threatened species of animal mainly due to hunting and habitat loss. Pollution (mainly water pollution) is also a major reason why swan populations are declining. Humans kept swans for many years for their meat, but today have more respect for the conservation of the swan and keep more sustainable animal food sources.
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First Published: 10th November 2008, Last Updated: 7th November 2019
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2. David Burnie, Dorling Kindersley (2008) Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
3. David Burnie, Kingfisher (2011) The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2011]
4. Dorling Kindersley (2006) Dorling Kindersley Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]
5. Richard Mackay, University of California Press (2009) The Atlas Of Endangered Species [Accessed at: 01 Jan 2009]
6. Tom Jackson, Lorenz Books (2007) The World Encyclopedia Of Animals [Accessed at: 10 Nov 2008]