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swan

swan swans have numerous legendary associations, including the story in Irish mythology that the Children of Lir were changed into swans by enchantment, and the Finnish belief that the swan sings once before it dies. In classical mythology the swan was sacred to Apollo and to Venus (occasionally, as by Shakespeare, also ascribed to Juno).

In reference to its pure white plumage and graceful appearance, the swan is often taken as a type of faultlessness or excellence.

A swan is the emblem of St Hugh of Lincoln.
swan maiden in Norse and Germanic folk tales, a girl who has the power of transforming herself into a swan by means of a dress of swan's feathers or of a magic ring or chain.
Swan of Avon a name for Shakespeare, deriving from Ben Jonson's ‘Sweet Swan of Avon!’ in his poem ‘To the Memory of My Beloved, the Author, Mr William Shakespeare’ (1623).
swan-upping the action or practice of ‘upping’ or taking up swans and marking them with nicks on the beak in token of being owned by the crown or some corporation.

See also black swan, all one's geese are swans.

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swan

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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swan

swan / swän/ • n. a large waterbird with a long flexible neck, short legs, webbed feet, a broad bill, and typically all-white plumage. • Genus Cygnus (and Coscoroba): several species. • v. (swanned , swan·ning ) [intr.] inf. move about or go somewhere in a casual, relaxed way, typically perceived as irresponsible or ostentatious by others: swanning around in a $2,000 sharkskin suit doesn't make you a Renaissance prince. DERIVATIVES: swan·like / -ˌlīk/ adj.

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swan

swan Any of several species of graceful, white or black waterfowl that nest in n Northern Hemisphere and migrate s for winter. Three species, including the Australian Black swan, live in the Southern Hemisphere. Most have broad, flat bills, long necks, plump bodies, and dense plumage. They dip their heads under water to feed on plant matter. Length: to 2m (6.5ft). Family Anatidae; genus Cygnus.

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swan

swan OE. swan = OS. suan, OHG. swan (G. schwan), ON. svanr :- Gmc. *swanaz; perh. based on IE. *swon- *swen-, repr. by Skr. svaná noise, L. sonere, sonāre SOUND2. Comp. swan-upping taking up swans to mark them for ownership. XVI. upping f. up vb. drive up and catch swans; see -ING1.

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swans

swans See ANATIDAE.

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swan

swanaide-de-camp, aides-de-camp, anon, Asunción, au courant, begone, Bonn, bon vivant, Caen, Canton, Carcassonne, Ceylon, chaconne, chateaubriand, ci-devant, Colón, colon, Concepción, con (US conn), cretonne, don, Duchamp, Evonne, foregone, fromage blanc, Gabon, Garonne, gone, guenon, hereupon, Inchon, Jean, john, Jon, Le Mans, León, Luzon, Mont Blanc, Narbonne, odds-on, on, outgone, outshone, Perón, phon, piñon, Pinot Blanc, plafond, Ramón, Saigon, Saint-Saëns, Sand, Schwann, scone, shone, side-on, sine qua non, Sorbonne, spot-on, swan, thereon, thereupon, ton, Toulon, undergone, upon, Villon, wan, whereon, whereupon, won, wonton, yon, Yvonne •crayon, rayon •Leon, Lyons, neon, prion •Ceredigion • Mabinogion • nucleon •Amiens • dupion • parathion •Laocoon •gluon, Rouen •bon-bon • Audubon

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Swans

SWANS

SWANS . Related to the elements of both air and water, the swan is a symbol of breath, spirit, transcendence, and freedom. In many religious traditions it is interchangeable with the goose or duck in signifying the soul. Swans connote both death beneath the waters and rebirth, or victory over death, in the air. The complexity of the symbol is reflected in its alchemical representation as the union of opposites, the mystic center.

A prominent motif among origin myths is the cosmogonic dive, in which a swan or other aquatic bird is sent by God to the depths of the primordial waters to bring back the "seed of earth," from which God creates the world. This image existed in manifold versions among prehistoric populations of northern and eastern Europe and, from the third millennium bce, among the peoples of America.

In Hindu iconography the swan personifies brahman-ātman, the transcendent yet immanent ground of being, the Self. Brahmā is often depicted borne on a swan, the divine bird that laid upon the waters the cosmic egg from which the god emerged. Variations of this image are common in Bali and Sri Lanka. The paraahamsa ("supreme swan" or gander) represents freedom from bondage in the phenomenal sphere and is a term of honor addressed to mendicant ascetics. The hasa bird is carved on the ornamental bands of Kesava temple at Somnathpur, erected in 1268 and dedicated to Viu.

In ancient Egypt, swans were associated with the mystic journey to the otherworld, as they are in the shamanistic religions of North Asia. In ancient Greece, priests of the Eleusinian mysteries were regarded as descendants of the birds; after their immersion in the purifying waters they were called swans. Vase paintings of the fifth century bce show the swan as their attribute. In its amatory aspect, the swan was sacred to Aphrodite and Venus and was the form assumed by Zeus as Leda's lover.

As a solar sign, the swan was the sun god's vehicle in Greece; it was assimilated to the yang principle in China and inscribed on one of the wings of Mithra, the Persian god of light. In Celtic myths, swan deities represent the beneficent, healing power of the sun. In the ancient religion of the Sioux Indians of the North American Plains, birds are reflections of divine principles, and the sacred white swan symbolizes the Great Spirit who controls all that moves and to whom prayers are addressed.

An ambivalent symbol in Judaism, the swan (or the duck or goose) is conspicuous on ceremonial objects although categorized as a bird of defilement in the Bible. In the Christian tradition, it symbolizes purity and grace and is emblematic of the Virgin. The belief that swans sing with their dying breath has linked them with martyrs.

Folklore is rich in legends of swan maidens and swan knights. Believed to have been totemistic figures and original founders of clans, the half-human, half-supernatural beings who metamorphosed into swans became images of spiritual power. The skiff that carried the archangelic grail knight Lohengrin, a savior sent by God to overcome evil, was drawn by a swan. The motif of the swan maiden or knight is widely disseminated in mythology and ritual throughout Europe, India, Persia, Japan, Oceania, Africa, and South America.

The bird's sweet song has made it a perennial metaphor in the arts. The Egyptians associated it with the harp; the Greeks, with the god of music; and the Celts deemed its song magical. Shakespeare was known as the Swan of Avon; Homer, the Swan of Maeander; and Vergil, the Mantuan Swan. Ever since Plato had Socrates aver that swans "sing more merrily at the approach of death because of the joy they have in going to the god they serve," the term swan song has been an epithet for an artist's last work.

See Also

Horses; Prehistoric Religions.

Bibliography

Bachelard, Gaston. L'eau et les rêves: Essai sur l'imagination de la matière. 4th ed. Paris, 1978. A poetic and psychological meditation on the symbolic meaning of the swan in literature and poetry. The author's views are based mainly on poetry and dreams but are cognate with sacred and archaic myths.

Brown, Joseph Epes, ed. The Sacred Pipe: Black Elk's Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux. Norman, Okla., 1953. The swan as symbol of the Great Spirit; the concept of birds as reflections of divine principles.

Campbell, Joseph. The Flight of the Wild Gander. New York, 1969. An examination of the complex of motifs in which the swan, interchangeable with the gander, is linked to the flight of the entranced shaman and to the brahman-ātman with which the yogin seeks to identify.

Eliade, Mircea. Zalmoxis, the Vanishing God: Comparative Studies in the Religions and Folklore of Dacia and Eastern Europe. Chicago, 1972. The relation of the swan to prehistoric myths of the cosmogonic dive.

Ann Dunnigan (1987)

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Swans

Swans

Swans of north america

Conservation of swans

Resources

Swans are large birds in the waterfowl family, Anatidae, which also includes ducks and geese. There are seven species of swans, occurring on all continents except Antarctica. Three species of swan, the mute swan (Cygnus olor), the tundra swan (C. colombianus), and the trumpeter swan (C. buccinator) breed regularly in North America.

Swans have a very long neck, and all North American species have a white body. Swans are well adapted to the aquatic environment, having fully webbed feet for swimming. However, these birds are not capable of submerging; instead they feed by tipping up and using their long neck to reach for their food of aquatic plants and occasional invertebrates. The plumage and external morphology of the sexes is similar. Swans are big birds, the largest species being the mute swan, which weighs as much as 33 lb (15 kg). Swans are flightless during the molt of late summer. They generally spend this time on large lakes, where they are relatively safe from terrestrial predators.

Most species of swans undertake substantial migrations between their breeding grounds (on large ponds and lakes) and wintering grounds (lakes or estuaries), sometimes traveling thousands of miles back and forth each year. Swans are highly territorial on the breeding grounds, trumpeting loudly and often engaging in fights with other swans. They even sometimes drive other species of waterfowl from their breeding lake. Swans typically mate for life, the pair staying together until one of the spouses dies.

Swans of north america

Three species of swan are regular breeders in North America. Mute swans breed in ponds and rivers in urban parks and other disturbed places, as well as more natural and wild habitats. The graceful and charismatic mute swan is familiar to most people. This species is native to Eurasia and was introduced to North America, where it has become the commonest of our swans.

The most abundant of the truly native species is the tundra or whistling swan, closely related to the Bewicks swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) of Eurasia. The tundra swan breeds widely on the low-arctic tundra of mainland Canada and southern Baffin Island, and mostly winters on estuaries of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. During migration the tundra swan occurs on lakes and rivers, and sometimes in agricultural fields near water. This species usually nests beside marsh-fringed ponds or lakes. Soon after hatching, the brood of three to five young swans (or cygnets) accompany the parents, feeding on invertebrates during their first month or so, as well as on terrestrial grasses and sedges and aquatic vegetation.

The trumpeter swan is somewhat larger than the whistling swan. It breeds in isolated populations in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, and as far south as Oregon and Wyoming. This species once had a much more widespread breeding range, probably extending east to Ontario and Quebec. Unfortunately, because of agricultural conversions of its habitat and overhunting, this species was taken perilously close to extinction. However, the population of trumpeter swans has recently increased to more than 24,000 individuals, and appears to be slowly expanding. Nevertheless, the trumpeter swan remains vulnerable to population decline. The trumpeter swan winters on Pacific estuaries and offshore islands, and on a few inland lakes. Some efforts are being made to expand the range of this species through captive-breeding and release, for example, in Ontario.

Conservation of swans

Although swans are not abundant birds, during migration and winter these birds may congregate in large numbers. Moreover, swans are large animals, and they are relatively easy to approach on land when they are husbanding their young, or on water when they are in molt. Because of these factors, wild swans have long been hunted for subsistence or sport. However, because of their low reproductive potential, populations of swans are easily depleted and extirpated by overhunting. This occurred during the heyday of sport and market hunting of the nineteenth century, a population decline that was exacerbated by the widespread loss of breeding, migrating, and wintering habitats. Some species of swans, including the trumpeter swan of North America, became an endangered species, and were almost made extinct. More recently, however, the populations of most species of swans have generally been stable or have increased due to conservation efforts by governments, especially during the latter half of the twentieth century. Today, there is no legal hunt of swans in North America, although there is some poaching of these birds, and a small aboriginal harvest of tundra swans occurs on their breeding grounds.

Swans are also at risk from other environmental stresses. The occurrence of lead pellets from spent shotgun ammunition in the surface sediment of their wintering habitat poses a toxic risk for wild swans. Waterfowl are poisoned when they retain the lead shot in their gizzard for use in grinding their food of seeds. This results in the abrasion and dissolving of the lead, which enters into the bloodstream and can cause a range of toxic problems, including death. During the 1980s and 1990s, it is likely that hundreds or thousands of swans died each year in North America from poisoning by lead shot, and probably more than a million ducks and geese. Fortunately, the use of lead shot has been, or soon will be banned over most of North America, so this will be less of a problem in the future.

Swans are also vulnerable to certain types of infectious diseases, especially avian cholera. This disease is caused by a food- and water-borne pathogen, and it can occur as a local epidemic that kills tens of thousands of waterfowl on particular lakes. Potentially, the trumpeter swan is especially at risk from the effects of this sort of epidemic disease, because large numbers congregate on wintering grounds in only a few lakes in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Birds wintering on coastal estuaries are at less risk from avian cholera.

Because of their positive aesthetics, 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 (Cygnus atratus) of Australia. Sightings of wild swans are also widely sought after by birders and other naturalists. Both the cultivation of swans and their non-consumptive use in ecotourism have economic benefits, and do not endanger populations of these birds.

Resources

BOOKS

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, and J. Sargatal. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1, Ostriches to Ducks. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Godfrey, W.E. The Birds of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

Johnsgard, P.A. Ducks in the Wild: Conserving Waterfowl and Their Habitats. Swan Hill Press, 1992.

Owen, M., and J. M. Black. Waterfowl Ecology. London: Blackie Pub., 1990.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf, 2000.

Bill Freedman

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Swans

Swans

Swans are large birds in the waterfowl family, Anatidae, which also includes ducks and geese . There are seven species of swans, occurring on all continents except Antarctica . Three species of swan, the mute swan (Cygnus olor), the tundra swan (C. colombianus), and the trumpeter swan (C. buccinator) breed regularly in North America .

Swans have a very long neck, and all North American species have a white body. Swans are well adapted to the aquatic environment, having fully webbed feet for swimming. However, these birds are not capable of submerging; instead they feed by tipping up and using their long neck to reach for their food of aquatic plants and occasional invertebrates . The plumage and external morphology of the sexes is similar. Swans are big birds, the largest species being the mute swan, which weighs as much as 33 lb (15 kg). Swans are flightless during the molt of late summer. They generally spend this time on large lakes, where they are relatively safe from terrestrial predators.

Most species of swans undertake substantial migrations between their breeding grounds (on large ponds and lakes) and wintering grounds (lakes or estuaries), sometimes traveling thousand of miles back and forth each year. Swans are highly territorial on the breeding grounds, trumpeting loudly and often engaging in fights with other swans. They even sometimes drive other species of waterfowl from their breeding lake . Swans typically mate for life, the pair staying together until one of the spouses dies.


Swans of North America

Three species of swan are regular breeders in North America. Mute swans breed in ponds and rivers in urban parks and other disturbed places, as well as more natural and wild habitats. The graceful and charismatic mute swan is familiar to most people. This species is native to Eurasia and was introduced to North America, where it has become the commonest of our swans.

The most abundant of the truly native species is the tundra or whistling swan, closely related to the Bewick's swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii) of Eurasia. The tundra swan breeds widely on the low-arctic tundra of mainland Canada and southern Baffin Island, and mostly winters on estuaries of the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. During migration the tundra swan occurs on lakes and rivers, and sometimes in agricultural fields near water . This species usually nests beside marsh-fringed ponds or lakes. Soon after hatching, the brood of 3-5 young swans (or cygnets) accompany the parents, feeding on invertebrates during their first month or so, as well as on terrestrial grasses and sedges and aquatic vegetation.

The trumpeter swan is somewhat larger than the whistling swan. It breeds in isolated populations in Alaska, Yukon, British Columbia, and as far south as Oregon and Wyoming. This species once had a much more widespread breeding range, probably extending east to Ontario and Quebec. Unfortunately, because of agricultural conversions of its habitat and overhunting, this species was taken perilously close to extinction . However, the population of trumpeter swans has recently increased to more than 5,000 individuals, and appears to be slowly expanding. Nevertheless, the trumpeter swan remains vulnerable to population decline. The trumpeter swan winters on Pacific estuaries and offshore islands, and on a few inland lakes. Some efforts are being made to expand the range of this species through captive-breeding and release, for example, in Ontario.


Conservation of swans

Although swans are not abundant birds, during migration and winter these birds may congregate in large numbers. Moreover, swans are large animals, and they are relatively easy to approach on land when they are husbanding their young, or on water when they are in molt. Because of these factors, wild swans have long been hunted for subsistence or sport. However, because of their low reproductive potential, populations of swans are easily depleted and extirpated by overhunting. This occurred during the heyday of sport and market hunting of the nineteenth century, a population decline that was exacerbated by the widespread loss of breeding, migrating, and wintering habitats. Some species of swans, including the trumpeter swan of North America, became an endangered species , and were almost made extinct. More recently, however, the populations of most species of swans have generally been stable or have increased due to conservation efforts by government, especially during the latter half of the twentieth century. Today, there is no legal hunt of swans in North America, although there is some poaching of these birds, and a small aboriginal harvest of tundra swans occurs on their breeding grounds.

Swans are also at risk from other environmental stresses. The occurrence of lead pellets from spent shotgun ammunition in the surface sediment of their wintering habitat poses a toxic risk for wild swans. Waterfowl are poisoned when they retain the lead shot in their gizzard for use in grinding their food of seeds . This results in the abrasion and dissolving of the lead, which enters into the bloodstream and can cause a range of toxic problems, including death (see entry on ducks). During the 1980s and 1990s, it is likely that hundreds or thousands of swans have died each year in North America from poisoning by lead shot, and probably more than a million ducks and geese. Fortunately, the use of lead shot has been, or soon will be banned over most of North America, so this will be less of a problem in the future.

Swans are also vulnerable to certain types of infectious diseases, especially avian cholera . This disease is caused by a food- and water-borne pathogen, and it can occur as a local epidemic that kills tens of thousands of waterfowl on particular lakes. Potentially, the trumpeter swan is especially at risk from the effects of this sort of epidemic disease, because large numbers congregate on wintering grounds in only a few lakes in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming. Birds wintering on coastal estuaries are at less risk from avian cholera.

Because of their positive aesthetics, 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 (Cygnus atratus) of Australia . Viewings of wild swans are also widely sought after by birders and other naturalists. Both the cultivation of swans and their non-consumptive use in ecotourism have economic benefits, and do not endanger populations of these birds.


Resources

books

Godfrey, W.E. The Birds of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

Johnsgard, P.A. Ducks in the Wild: Conserving Waterfowl andTheir Habitats. Swan Hill Press, 1992.

Owen, M., and J. M. Black. Waterfowl Ecology. London: Blackie Pub., 1990.

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf, 2000.


Bill Freedman

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"Swans." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Sep. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Swans." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 16, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swans

"Swans." The Gale Encyclopedia of Science. . Retrieved September 16, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/swans

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

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Notes:
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  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.