Swans belong to the genus Cygnus.

Along with ducks and geese, swans make up the family Anatidae.

Anatidae are part of the order of aquatic birds known as Anseriformes.

Swans are large birds, with heavy, muscular bodies.

The trumpeter swan is the largest swan in the world, and the largest of the Anatidae and the Anseriformes. Trumpeter swans rangeĀ  from around 4 1/2 to 6 feet long. They usually weigh between 17 and 30 pounds and can have wingspans of over 6 feet.

Trumpeter swanSwans have larger feet and necks, in proportion to their bodies, than geese.

Many people consider the long, curved neck of a swan a symbol of grace and beauty.

Most swans have blackish gray legs.

Swans usually live in temperate regions of the Earth.

Those that live in the northern hemisphere have pure white feathers, while those swans that live in the southern hemisphere have brown or black feathers mixed with white ones.

Male and female swans of the same species have similar coloring.

Swans live in wetland areas, for example, near rivers, lakes, ponds or marshes.

They obtain their food in the water and on land.

Black swan with cygnetSwans eat plants that they find underwater and grasses that grow along the banks of ponds and rivers

They also eat insects.

Sometimes, swans will eat grain.

Some swans migrate.

Swans are monogamous. Pairs usually remain together for life, although pairs sometimes "divorce" and find new mates.

To human beings, swans often symbolize fidelity.

Some male swans form homosexual pairs and raise young together.

A male swan is known as a cob, and a female swan is called a pen. A young swan is known as a cygnet.

Cygnets will sometimes take rides on their parents' backs.

There are six living species of swan:

  • The trumpeter swan (Cygnus buccinator), which lives in North America
  • The mute swan (Cygnus olor), which is breeds in Eurasia and may migrate as far south as North Africa
  • The whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) of Eurasia
  • The black swan (Cygnus atratus) of Australia
  • The black-necked swan (Cygnus melancoryphus), which can be found in South America
  • The tundra swan (Cygnus columbianus), which breeds in the arctic and subarctic regions of the northern hemisphere. The tundra swan is migratory, and travels further south in winter.

Some ornithologists divide the tundra swan into two separate species: the whistling swan (also called Cygnus columbianus) and Bewick's swan (Cygnus bewickii).