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Swan is a species of aquatic birds which might be Cygnus or allied genera which belongs to a subfamily of Cygninae. They are characterized by a long flexible neck, short legs, webbed feet, a broad bill, and mostly all-white plumage. They’re also known to have graceful movements when they swim and sing songs especially when they want to die. Swans are mostly known to always be in pairs and that leads us to ask if any of them should be left alone. Like, what would really happen if a swan is left alone? Well, just like you I have already thought long and hard about it. In this post, I am going to be providing you answers to this question and also let you know some fascinating things about the swan you may not know.
Should Swans Be Left Alone Or Kept In Pairs?
Swans are very social birds in the group of a wedge so it’s normal to find them in pairs or groups. Most times the other swan you find them with is usually their mates. Once the courtship is complete, a male and female swan is bonded for life. The thing now is, swans are not supposed to be left alone as it can lead to their deaths. When a swan is left alone by the mate or one is taken away from the other, they are left heartbroken and can even die of that heartbreak. The heartbreak can cause them to be socially withdrawn from other swans even though they are sociable birds. They sometimes refuse to eat and can starve to death. For this reason, swans should not be left alone.
Reasons Why Swans Should Not Be Left Alone
Apart from the fact that a swan been left alone by the mate can cause them to withdraw or starve themselves to death, there are still other reasons why swans should naturally not be left alone. Here are some of the reasons:
- Swan is such a blessing to our ecosystem and it’s pertinent that they don’t stay alone as they are more protected when in pairs or group. They need to be protected from predators to avoid them going into extinction. Due to their large size, swans have few natural predators in the wild which include, wolves, raccoons, bear, golden eagles, ravens etc, which can sometimes snatch their eggs. But been together or in pairs allow them to fight back. A swan hiss or a flap of its wings shows a sign of near danger and it will alert the other(s) to fiercely stand on guard over their nest as well to protect their offspring from the predator.
- Swans are social birds and their behaviour towards their companion or mate is different from the way they would behave to others. They pay special attention to their mates and when such a person leaves or is taken away, it leaves a deep mark on them which they may find very difficult to erase.
- Swans are always in pairs but in the case of loss of a partner leading to them been left alone, it can cause them to be easily captured or become feral (wild).
- Swans are significantly considered as a symbol of grace and beauty, though they have an ugly side too. A swan can be very mean or aggressive at times and with its fierce attack sustaining injuries is more common than one could imagine. This can mostly be found in swans that are alone because most times they are trying to pass frustrations.
- Swans usually have one mate and this relationship bonds last for many years, most often it can go for a lifetime. They are very loyal to their mates hence they are regarded as the universal symbol of love. That’s why you mostly see the image of two swans swimming with their necks entwined in the shape of a heart. Breaking that bond they have grown to have for their partner can literally lead to their heartbreak.
Fascinating Things About The Swan You May Not Know
For long now people have been fighting against the hunting of swans. If you are wondering why they are doing that, it’s mostly because in the hunting process, some swans are taken away and the second pair is left alone. Think about all that was mentioned here earlier and imagine what it’s like for them. Well, just to remind ou some more things about the swan, here are some fascinating things about the swans which I want to share with you to have in mind:
- We have six species of swan in existence now while many have gone into extinction due to deaths caused by humans who hunt them for food, and other wild preys too. Currently, we have the mute swan, the black swan, the tundra swan, the trumpeter swan, the north American swan and the coscoroba swan though the later is no longer considered one of the true swans.
- Swans usually create a strong bond in pairs that sometimes last for a lifetime. Even though sometimes divorce occurs, it’s mainly due to nesting failure or when a mate dies the remaining swan pairs with another.
- The number of eggs hatched at the same time ranges from three to eight birds.
- Swans feed in water and on land. They feed mainly on plants and maybe a small number of aquatic animals. In the water, they obtain their food by turning upside-down or dabbling as their diet is composed of the roots, tubers, stems and leaves of aquatic and underwater plants.
- Swans mostly bond for life and sometimes it happens even before they get to maturity age. Trumpeter swans, for example, who have a life span of 24 years and only start breeding at the age of 4–7, can develop a relationship bonds as early as 20 months.
- Divorce is very rare among the swan and when it happens it’s mostly caused by a failure in nesting though it sometimes happens to pairs that have successful breeding. The pair bonds are maintained year-round, even when forming groups with others or migrating from one region or from one climate to another; like the tundra swan which gather amass in the wintering grounds.
- Swans make their nests on the ground near the water and about a metre across. The male also helps the female with the nest construction and also take turns incubating the eggs, alongside the whistling.
- The average egg size (for the mute swan) is 113×74 mm, weighing 340 g, in a clutch size of 4 to 7, and an incubation period of 34–45 days.
- Swans protect their nests with high precautions and will brutally attack anything that they perceive as a threat to their chicks, including humans, which usually doesn’t end well.
- In England during the reign of Elizabeth 1, swan meat was regarded as a luxury as it was very rare and costly. It was hunted, killed, prepared and served to people who had the money and are interested in it.
- When a swan flies, it reveals so much strength, balance and charm. When it’s coasting through the water, the swan looks as if he is the king of the world. No other bird is like and that’s why some noble families chose the swan to be their shield.
- The swan has beautiful angel-like wings, it’s always a spectacular sight watching them, in the morning or late afternoon, or when the sun is down. When the light hits their feathers as they spread them, it is quite a beauty to behold. Another beautiful sight of it is when they bath, they splash their wings forcefully in the water. Raising the water current, Sometimes they almost disappeared in the storm of millions of waterdrops that suddenly surround them.
- Aristotle, Plato and Socrates all believed that swans distinguished singing prowess increases as death approaches, which is called the swan song or the final performance.
- During the Middle Ages, Swan was traded among the Elites and noblemen. The owners of swans were obliged to mark their property by way of succession in a unique cut in the bill of their birds.
- It was the duty of the Royal Swanmaster to organise the annual expeditions to take up the young swans; a tradition that still survives to this day. The yearly expedition of takin up the young swan was to round up unmarked young swan, and once the origin of the young swan had been established to the Swanmaster’s satisfaction, the birds could be marked appropriately and returned to the wild. The ceremony is still practised till this day in a largely symbolic form.
The photographer who fell in love with the swan
A nature photographer according to the Paradise Canvas Printers stresses more on the efficacy and beauty of the swan. Here’s his story “Photographing the beauty of a swan during my first years as a nature photographer were among my favourite subjects. Day after day I observed them and was often surprised by their behaviour. Especially during mating season, the cob (male swan) became extremely territorial, bullying all other birds in the lake, chasing them as far away as he could. That made for some pretty hilarious scenes, as he puffed himself up, to look twice as big as normal. He noted that while trying to approach the nest one has to always be very careful as even though going with bread will ease the nerves but it does not prevent one from brutal attacks once they perceive danger. A few times I had to run back because I got too close and they tried to attack. This taught me to respect their personal space and control my desire as a nature photographer to get as close as possible. Respect for the animals is the primary rule for any animal lover.”
The beauty of a swan can not be over-exaggerated as it’s beyond words and expressions. Being such an incredible creature, to me the swan is more than just a ‘bird’ as we all call it, The beauty of a swan is not only its elegance but also its expression of strength and this magnificent creature called the Swan falls into these categories. This makes them stand out well from the others.
What do you think?