Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Mute Swan: Friend or Foe?

The Mute Swan was introduced into North America by Europe and Asia in the late 1800's, to grace the ponds of parks, estates, and zoos.

For some, the Mute Swan's beauty, its ability to float lightly on the water, and its tendency to mate for life have resulted in it being used as a symbol of grace, love, and fidelity, and an omen of good luck for sailors. For some, it has religious symbolism as well.

In reality, a single Mute Swan is said to consume up to 8 lbs of vegetation a day and uproot another 20 lbs during the feeding process. This results in loss of habitat and a key food source for other waterfowl and aquatic species, including fish.

In some areas, like the Atlantic Flyway, provincial wildlife management agencies are calling for a coordinated plan to reduce populations by 2013.

The Mute Swan population has not expanded into Western Canada, at this time. On this day, at Lost Lagoon in Vancouver's Stanley Park, I saw only a pair, including this one. Most recently, I did see another single out at Westham Island (See that BLOG post HERE). It's hard to believe these beautiful birds pose a threat to others. What do YOU think?

For specific information about the Atlantic Flyway Mute Swan Management Plan, visit HERE

For more information about Swans in Canada, visit HERE


  1. Gorgeous shots of this noble bird. You captured its grace so perfectly. I hope that there can be other means of saving the ecosystem and replenishing habitats without reducing this population.

  2. Your writing and photos are excellent. It all goes back to the folly of introducing non-native species, even if they are quite beautiful.

  3. Love your photos! An introduced non-native species causes many problems. It's a shame such a beautiful bird is a part of it.

  4. Lovely swan. It's a shame they cause so much damage.

  5. I love your photos! Gorgeous! Would you mind if I painted one of them?