Swans – Birds of Beauty, Grace, and Speed
Swans are waterbirds with heavy bodies and long necks. Along with ducks and geese, swans belong to a family of birds called waterfowl in North America and wildfowl in Europe.
They are fast flyers. Their oily feathers stay dry in the water and their webbed feet make them strong swimmers. Swans are among the larger flying birds. They feed on plants seeds, small water creatures, and fish eggs, but don’t dive for food.
There are seven species of swans, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. The whistling swan and the trumpeter swan are found in North America, the mute swan lives in Europe and Asia. The black-necked swan lives in South America, and beautiful black swan lives in Australia. The black swan is the state emblem of Western Australia.
The male swan is called a “cob” and the female is called a “pen”. A pair of swans usually stays together for life. The female lays four to eight greenish eggs and the male keeps close guard. The young swans are called “cygnets” and sometimes they ride on their mother’s back.
Most types migrate to spend different seasons in different regions. Swans are flightless during the molt of late summer.
Swans have been widely cultivated in waterfowl collections and in public parks. The most commonly kept species is the mute swan, but other species are also bred, including the unusual black swan of Australia.
Swan is a symbol of rebirth, purity, chastity, loneliness, nobility, wisdom and prophetic powers, poetry and courage, excellence. Combining the two elements: air and water, the swan is the bird of life, and at the same time can personify death.
Swan is considered to be the bird of poets. Song of the dying swan is a song of the poet. The famous “swan song” means the last major creation of outstanding people.
In ancient China, the swan was a solar bird, yang.
In the Greco-Roman tradition, the image of the swan is associated with Zeus, Aphrodite, Apollo, and Orpheus.
In Christianity, the white swan is the purity, mercy and a symbol of the Virgin Mary. His suicide song symbolizes the suffering of the martyrs and Christian humility.
In alchemy, the swan is a symbol of the second stage of the alchemical process – albedo.
Böckler (1688) stated that swans were fighting even with an eagle, when it attacked them. They are “kings among water birds, are a sign of the white world. This poetic formulation is reminiscent of the swan knight Lohengrin.