• The Irish word for mute swan is Eala bhalbh.
  • Average lifespan for a mute swan is ten years but the oldest recorded lived to 28 years and five months in 2012.
  • Female is called a pen, males called a cob and babies called cygnets.
  • The male and female are very similar however the male is larger with a larger black knob on the forehead.
  • Cygnets begin life with grey feathers, then gradually turn brown in adolescence before becoming white.
  • Everyone is familiar with the story “The Ugly Duckling” based on this fact.
  • A adult swan has approximately 25,000 feathers.
  • Their diet is largely based upon water plants. They use their extended neck to reach 1 meter below the water surface to graze but they also leave the water to graze on land vegetation, insects, molluscs and small amphibians.
  • Newly born cygnets are mainly lost to crows, herons, magpies, pike and large perch. Both cygnets and adult mute swans are also the prey of foxes and mink.
  • Vandals, pollution, dogs, overhead cables, bridges, pylons, lead poisoning, fishing-tackle injuries are some of the main threats to swans.
  • Most swans don’t breed until they are four or five having spent a year “on honeymoon”. Females tend to be younger than their mate.
  • Swans generally stay together for life. The divorce rate among Irish swans is around 3% per year.
  • Usually breeding in April, nests are untidy heaps of reed grass and debris beside the water bank; some may be floating.
  • The overall clutch size for Irish swans is seven eggs.
  • Once hatched, the cygnets remain with their mother on the nest for a day or two. Then she leads them onto the water where can swim, vocalise and feed themselves immediately.
  • When danger threatens, a mother will allow the babies climb on her back and shelter under her wings.
  • Try to read “the children of Lir”, a super Irish story.
  • Watch our Wildlife Wednesday Video here for more fun facts