iD magazine



The mute swan ( Cygnus olor), which is native to Eurasia, and its American cousin the trumpeter swan ( Cygnus buccinator) are among the biggest and heaviest of the aquatic flying birds, with gleaming white feathers and an S- shaped neck that make for a very impressive appearance. People like to go to rivers or ponds in the spring to observe these majestic creatures. But don’t get too close: When they’re nesting, swans can be extremely dangerous. With a sweep of their wings, these birds can knock over an adult human or even break a child’s arm. Some people fear getting “bitten” by a swan, but these large birds don’t actually have teeth. When they feel threatened, however, they may hiss and peck, which can be rather painful. The cause for confusion about “swan teeth”: Like their relatives the geese and ducks, swans have tooth-like lamellae along the edges of their mouths. These ridges look like teeth but they merely serve as sieves to trap food and drain away water before the swan swallows.

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