Five things you (prob­a­bly) didn’t know about…


Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country Notebook -

• The idea that swans are largely silent un­til they per­form a ‘swan song’ be­fore death is a myth. All species per­form courtship dances, of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by hiss­ing and grunt­ing. Trum­peter swans also honk—or trum­pet.

• Al­though swans mate for life, there are rare cases of ‘divorce’—of­ten af­ter a poor breed­ing sea­son. The only swan to be reg­u­larly un­faith­ful is the fe­male Aus­tralian black swan.

• De­spite the warn­ings, it’s un­likely that a swan, which has quite thin bones, could break a healthy adult’s arm. How­ever, if caught by the wing joint, you’re likely to ac­quire a de­cent bruise.

• The an­nual swan-up­ping cer­e­mony on the Thames, now a mon­i­tor­ing ex­er­cise, is a tra­di­tion stem­ming from the Mid­dle Ages, when the birds were owned by and traded be­tween no­ble­men. To keep track of the off­spring and who they be­longed to, the birds were rounded up and dis­tinc­tive nicks made in their beaks.

• The ag­gres­sive dis­play made by a swan when it feels threat­ened is known as ‘busk­ing’. VM

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