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swan, common name for a large aquatic bird of both hemispheres, related to ducks and geese. It has a long, gracefully curved neck and an extremely long, convoluted trachea which makes possible its far-carrying calls. The orange-billed white trumpeter swan, Cygnus buccinator, seen in parks, is the mute swan, of Old World origin. It breeds in the wild state in parts of Europe, Asia, and the United States. During the breeding season it has a trumpetlike note, softer in the tame birds. The whistling swan migrates from the arctic to Mexico. Conservation measures saved the almost extinct trumpeter swan of North America, the largest species. Wild species in Europe include the whooper (or whooping) and the Bewick swans. The black swan, Chenopis atrata, is native to Australia, and the black-necked swan, Cygnus melancoriphus, to South America. The black swan has been domesticated. Swans are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Anseriformes, family Anatidae.


See study by P. Scott and the Wildfowl Trust (1972).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a bird of the family Anatidae of the order Anseriformes. It measures up to 180 cm long and weighs up to 13 kg. The length of the neck is equal to or exceeds the length of the body. There are six species, combined into two genera: black swans (Chenopsis) and true swans (Cygnus).

The genus Chenopsis comprises one species, the black swan (Ch. atrata), which is distributed in Australia and Tasmania and is acclimatized in New Zealand. The genus Cygnus comprises five species, one of which is distributed in the subarctic regions, two in Europe and Asia, one in North America, and one in South America.

In the USSR there are three species of true swans: the mute swan, the whooper swan, and Bewick’s swan. The mute swan (C. olor) is the largest of all the swans. The male has a black knob on its bill. The bird is distributed in some parts of the southeast European Plain and in Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, and Western Siberia. The whooper swan (C. cygnus), somewhat smaller than the mute swan, is widely distributed except in the tundra. However, it is becoming increasingly rare everywhere. Bewick’s swan (C. bewicki) measures about 120 cm long and weighs up to 7 kg. It inhabits the tundra. Swans that nest in the USSR winter on the seas, sometimes even in the north, and more rarely on freshwater lakes in the south.

Swans settle on large lakes in reed thickets. The nests are bulky, and they are built by both the male and female on the shore, next to the water. Five to seven eggs, although sometimes as many as 12, are laid per clutch, and they are incubated by the female for 35 to 40 days. The male guards the female and the cygnets. Swans generally mate for many years. They swim well but cannot dive and therefore feed only in shallow waters. They eat aquatic and littoral plants and sometimes aquatic invertebrates.

Swans are often kept on ponds in parks. They have some commercial significance in the northern USSR; elsewhere, hunting them is prohibited.


Ptitsy Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 4. Edited by G. P. Dement’ev and N. A. Gladkov. Moscow, 1952.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

What does it mean when you dream about a swan?

The swan is a traditional symbol of beauty, grace, and dignity. It can also symbolize a farewell appearance or final act, as in “swan song.”

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.


(vertebrate zoology)
Any of several species of large waterfowl comprising the subfamily Anatinae; they are herbivorous stout-bodied forms with long necks and spatulate bills.


McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


any large aquatic bird of the genera Cygnus and Coscoroba, having a long neck and usually a white plumage: family Anatidae, order Anseriformes


Sir Joseph Wilson. 1828--1914, English physicist and chemist, who developed the incandescent electric light (1880) independently of Edison


a river in SW Western Australia, rising as the Avon northeast of Narrogin and flowing northwest and west to the Indian Ocean below Perth. Length: about 240 km (150 miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Including the Dan Cisne, the partnership will have a fleet of eight vessels with an average age of 3.2 years and with a fixed average employment of 5.4 years.
Middlebrook's opening essay on the Cisne de Apolo engages with several of the overarching themes of the collection.
Descrita como un film acerca "del terror y la violencia de realizar arte" (1), la historia (2) transcurre en el lapso de semanas a meses, en los que Nina, una bailarina de una prestigiosa compania de ballet de Nueva York, es escogida para representar el rol de la Reina Cisne, en la nueva version del Lago de los cisnes, que su director, Thomas, planea producir.
Their combination of athleticism and experimentation has made Cisne Negro ("Black Swan" in Portuguese) one of Brazil's most exciting companies.