• [37] The mute swan is also one of the sacred birds of Apollo, whose associations stem both from the nature of the bird as a symbol of light, as well as the notion of a “swan

  • In the second century, the Roman poet Juvenal made a sarcastic reference to a good woman being a “rare bird, as rare on earth as a black swan” (black swans being completely
    unknown in the Northern Hemisphere until Dutch explorers reached Australia in the 1600s), from which comes the Latin phrase rara avis (rare bird).

  • There are six living and many extinct species of swan; in addition, there is a species known as the coscoroba swan which is no longer considered one of the true swans.

  • Hinduism[edit] See also: Hamsa (bird) Swans are revered in Hinduism, and are compared to saintly persons whose chief characteristic is to be in the world without getting attached
    to it, just as a swan’s feather does not get wet although it is in water.

  • According to the Prose Edda, the water of this well is so pure and holy that all things that touch it turn white, including this original pair of swans and all others descended
    from them.

  • [38] ‘Black Swan’ event[edit] The Black Swan theory originates from Juvenal’s reference, leading to the black swan as a metaphor for something that could, in theory, exist,
    but does not.

  • This is seen as a great quality, as shown by this Sanskrit verse: The swan is white, the crane is white, what is the difference between the swan and the crane?

  • [29] Fossil record[edit] Black swan skeleton (Museum of Osteology) The fossil record of the genus Cygnus is quite impressive, although allocation to the subgenera is often
    tentative; as indicated above, at least the early forms probably belong to the C. olor – Southern Hemisphere lineage, whereas the Pleistocene taxa from North America would be placed in Olor.

  • Given the biogeography and appearance of the subgenus Olor it seems likely that these are of a more recent origin, as evidence shows by their modern ranges (which were mostly
    uninhabitable during the last ice age) and great similarity between the taxa.

  • [36] Other references in classical literature include the belief that, upon death, the mute swan would sing beautifully—hence the phrase swan song.

  • Swans usually mate for life, although “divorce” sometimes occurs, particularly following nesting failure, and if a mate dies, the remaining swan will take up with another.

  • In the Mediterranean, the leg bones of the giant swan (C. falconeri) were found on the islands of Malta and Sicily; it may have been over 2 meters from tail to bill, which
    was taller (though not heavier) than the contemporary local dwarf elephants (Palaeoloxodon falconeri).

  • Trumpeter swans, for example, who can live as long as 24 years and only start breeding at the age of 4–7, form monogamous pair bonds as early as 20 months.

  • Darío’s most famous poem in this regard is Blasón – “Coat of Arms” (1896), and his use of the swan made it a symbol for the Modernismo poetic movement that dominated Spanish
    language poetry from the 1880s until the First World War.

  • Four (or five) species occur in the Northern Hemisphere, one species is found in Australia, one extinct species was found in New Zealand and the Chatham Islands, and one species
    is distributed in southern South America.

  • One species, the mute swan, has been introduced to North America, Australia and New Zealand.

  • [11] There is some evidence that the black-necked swan is migratory over part of its range, but detailed studies have not established whether these movements are long or short
    range migration.

  • [19] “Divorce”, though rare, does occur; one study of mute swans showing a 3% rate for pairs that breed successfully and 9% for pairs that do not.

  • The mute swan apparently is closest to the Southern Hemisphere Cygnus;[27] its habits of carrying the neck curved (not straight) and the wings fluffed (not flush) as well
    as its bill color and knob indicate that its closest living relative is the black swan.

  • [5] Young swans are known as cygnets or as swanlings; the former derives via Old French cigne or cisne (diminutive suffix et ‘little’) from the Latin word cygnus, a variant
    form of cycnus ‘swan’, itself from the Greek, a word of the same meaning.

  • The ballet’s lead dual roles of Odette (white swan) / Odile (black swan) represent good and evil,[42] and are among the most challenging roles[43] created in Romantic classical

  • A number of prehistoric species have been described, mostly from the Northern Hemisphere.

  • In culture European motifs[edit] Many of the cultural aspects refer to the mute swan of Europe.

  • [11] Mute swan threatens a photographer in Toyako, Japan Swans famously mate for life, and typically bond even before they reach sexual maturity.

  • [20] The pair bonds are maintained year-round, even in gregarious and migratory species like the tundra swan, which congregate in large flocks in the wintering grounds.

  • Swans are also present in Irish literature in the poetry of W.B.

  • Unlike many other ducks and geese, the male helps with the nest construction, and will also take turns incubating the eggs.

  • [12] The Northern Hemisphere species of swan have pure white plumage, but the Southern Hemisphere species are mixed black and white.

  • “[35] The Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, a religious confraternity which existed in ‘s-Hertogenbosch in the late Middle Ages, had ‘sworn members’, also called
    ‘swan-brethren’ because they used to donate a swan for the yearly banquet.

  • According to the story, whoever killed a swan would perish as well.

  • [45] Spanish language literature[edit] In Latin American literature, the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío (1867–1916) consecrated the swan as a symbol of artistic inspiration by
    drawing attention to the constancy of swan imagery in Western culture, beginning with the rape of Leda and ending with Wagner’s Lohengrin.

  • Bill colour varies: the four subarctic species have black bills with varying amounts of yellow, and all the others are patterned red and black.

  • Perhaps the best known story about a swan is the fable “The Ugly Duckling”.

  • [34] As food[edit] Swan meat was regarded as a luxury food in England in the reign of Elizabeth I.

  • Therefore, Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, is seen riding the swan because the swan thus symbolizes Viveka, i.e.

  • Irish lore and poetry[edit] The Irish legend of the Children of Lir is about a stepmother transforming her children into swans for 900 years.

  • [9] Description Swans are the largest extant members of the waterfowl family Anatidae, and are among the largest flying birds.

  • They are almost entirely herbivorous, although they may eat small amounts of aquatic animals.

  • Christianity[edit] St Hugh of Lincoln with swan A swan is one of the attributes of St. Hugh of Lincoln, based on the story of a swan who was devoted to him.

  • The largest living species, including the mute swan, trumpeter swan, and whooper swan, can reach a length of over 1.5 m (59 in) and weigh over 15 kg (33 lb).


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Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/seelensturm/8038712786/’]