Mute Swan

Hey guys welcome back! Today, a frightening sight. The mute swan. Swans are some of the largest birds in North America, and as many people and YouTube videos can attest, they are also some of the most aggressive and territorial. Even allaboutbirds.com uses the phrase “hazard to humans” in their mute swan description. Of course, if you avoid disturbing them, you’ll be quite fine. I’m mostly kidding when I say I’m terrified of them haha.

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Mute swan with an aggressive swimming display, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY

Although the mute swan is what many people think of when they picture a swan, they are not native to North America. The continent does have native swan species, which we’ll get to later in this series, but the mute swan was brought over from Europe to decorate the lakes and ponds in parks here in the US. You typically don’t see many mute swans at once, unless you visit Jamaica Bay in Queens, NY. For whatever reason, there are dozens of them out there. Now that is a terrifying sight! Mute swans are very large waterfowl with long necks. They have an orange bill that typically sees a knob at its base.

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Mute swans feeding, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Jamaica, Queens, NY

Though people like to romanticize the mute swans for mating for life and dying of loneliness when one of the couple dies, they actually do switch mates, though this happens very infrequently. Additionally, a “widowed” mute swan will typically move on with a new mate. Their aggressive behavior can upset the balance of native species so they aren’t always a welcome sight to an ecosystem. I’m not sure where the name comes from, as the species isn’t mute. They do make sort of a muffled trumpeting sound, although it isn’t quite as loud as other swan species. Believe it or not, Central Park does not have any swans currently, although I heard tale from some of the veteran park workers of mute swans in the park. Typically I’d only see them when I ventured to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, or Flushing Meadows in Queens. Join me next time for a look at one of my favorite warblers, the blue-winged warbler! See you all then!

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