Mute Swans – Beauty and the Beast

February 7, 2012

The Great Outdoors

Mute Swan

 Elmer Mudguaard.

     Once a rare sight along the South Shore, this magnificent looking bird’s population has exploded and now many ponds and lakes in our area have resident pairs. Mute Swans are originally from eastern Europe and western Asia. They were brought to this country as “pets” to adorn public parks and private ponds; and whether they escaped or were released, they have spread from Chesapeake Bay in the south to Massachusetts in the north and west to the Great Lakes.  I have had encounters with them on rivers while kayaking and have been “driven off” by big Cobs (males) defending their Pens (females) on the nest. They can be very aggressive and a swan attack is not to be taken lightly.  At ponds where they are fed by people, they will bully their way to the front of the line demanding to be fed first.

When I look like this - "Stay Away"

Once the star of the “Ugly Duckling,”  this invasive species is blamed for a lot of damage to the aquatic plants in its territory.  Massachusetts Wildlife and Fisheries Department has even considered a hunting season as a means of population control.

Swan Behavior

I enjoy the beauty of Mute swans in a natural setting, so it is difficult to see them as a destructive, invasive species. So, admire the swan for its beauty, but watch out for the beast within.

Even whiter than snow!