The Mute Swan has for many centuries been a symbol of grace and beauty in the natural world. The Cygnus Olor is one of the largest, and heaviest, flying birds in the animal kingdom.
The birds' beauty has captured the imagination of great writers throughout history from Hans Christian Andersen’s Ugly Duckling, to the German Medieval tales of the Swan Knights. It has captured the imagination of myths and legends from Socrates myths of the swan song, to legends such as the Children of Lir. The Mute Swan has proved an inspiration for great painters and works of architecture. Cesare Sesto, Michangelo and Leanrdo Da Vinci painted the Leda and the Swan, while King Ludwig of Bavaria built much admired castles such as Neuschwanstein, in honour of the beauty of the bird and the place it has in Germanic mythology.
Male swans are called cobs. Female swans are called Pens. Baby swans are called Cygnets. A group of cygnets are called a clutch. A group of wild swans is called a herd or a bevie. Captive groups of swans are called a fleet. Adults can differ in size from 125 to 170 centimetres long with a wingspan of 200 to 240 centimetres. Males are larger than females and have a larger knob on the bill. They can stand over 120 centimetres, and can fly at up to 55 mph.