Swan, a web-footed bird of the duck family, and the type of the subfamily cygninoe, embracing some of the largest and most graceful of aquatic birds. The bill and feet are much like those of the ducks, the former being stout, of nearly equal width throughout, and with a comparatively small nail; the neck very long, and the legs short; wings long and powerful, second and third quills equal and longest; tail short and rounded; eyes small and near the bill. They perform long migrations, flying in single files uniting at an acute angle; the diet consists of grass, roots, and seeds, in search of which they submerge the head only, keeping it under water three to five minutes at a time; they also devour aquatic worms and insects, young frogs, and probably small fish; the intestines are long, as in the vegetable feeders; they are gregarious at all seasons, awkward on land, but rapid and high fliers; they are remarkably careful to keep their plumage, which is generally white, free from dirt. The nest is bulky, of grass and coarse materials, placed on the ground among the rushes and near the water; it is sometimes raised a foot or more to avoid inundations; the male guards the nest, assists the female in the care of the young, and boldly defends them even against predaceous animals and man; the eggs are live to eight, and incubation lasts six weeks. - In the typical genus cygnus (Linn.) the bill is longer than the head, the base covered by a soft skin extending to the anterior half of the eyes, and the nostrils in the middle portion; lower part of tibia bare; tarsus much shorter than the foot, compressed and scaly; webs full; hind toe small, much elevated, with a narrow lobe; tail of 20 to 24 feathers, rounded or wedge-shaped; sexes similarly colored, but the females the smaller.

Wagler has divided the old genus cygnus into two, cygnus and olor, according as there is or is not a swollen fleshy tubercle at the base of the bill; in the former also the lamella) of the edges of the bill are visibly projecting, and in the latter not; in the former belongs the tamo swan of Europe, and in the latter the wild swan and both of the North American species. The European wild or whooping swan (C.ferus, Ray) is 4½ to 4¾ ft. long, white, with the head and neck tinged with yellowish, and a black bill, yellowish at the base and without tubercle; it is a winter visitor in Great Britain, migrating northward in the spring to Lapland, Russia, Siberia, etc, where it breeds; the young are brownish gray. The male has a peculiar note resembling the word "hoop," repeated several times in succession, the intensity greatly increased by the convolutions of the windpipe, which, after penetrating the keel of the breast bone to its posterior portion, is bent forward again to the front of this bone before going to the lungs; this peculiarity is not found in the tame swan, which has a soft and plaintive voice.

The swan is cruel and vindictive; the males fight savagely at pairing time, and the female with young attacks everything which approaches her nest; it can repel any bird, even the eagle, and in fighting the combatants try to drown one another by holding the rival's head under water, often with success. Though heavy fliers, they rise to a great height, uttering a loud, harsh, and trumpetlike note when sailing high in the air; when enraged or alarmed they can swim faster than a man can walk. This bird was sacred to Apollo, and was the bird of the Muses; it was fabulously celebrated for its melodious song, especially at the time of its death. The flesh is dark and tough. The European tame swan (C. olor, Gmel.) has a red bill, with black tip and sides, and a tubercle at the base; the trachea has no convolutions. It is generally distributed over Europe and America as an ornamental bird; it is large and handsome, a permanent resident in temperate Europe; in Great Britain from remote periods it has been protected by preservative laws; the male is called a cob and the female a pen; its life is said to extend to a century. The young have a gray plumage and a lead-colored bill. The flesh is said to have a flavor between that of the goose and the hare.

The most prized are brought to the United States from Hamburg, and are generally what are called Polish swans (C. immutabilis, Yarr.), from the Baltic shores, noted for having white cygnets. - The American or whistling swan (C. Americanus, Sharpless) is 55 in. long and about 7 ft. in alar extent, with a bill of 41/5 in.; the bill is as long as the head, high at the base, the feathers on the forehead ending in a semicircular outline; the nostrils far forward; tail of 20 feathers; the adult is pure white with bill and legs black, and an orange or yellowish spot in front of the eye; young birds are brownish, especially on the head; they are five or six years in coming to maturity. This species is spread over the North American continent from the Atlantic to the Pacific; many are shot in winter and spring on the coasts of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware; when they are feeding, one always acts as sentinel; they fly in an angle, each line in single rile, the leading bird as he gets weary retiring to the rear. The nest is described as made of moss, peat, and sticks, 5 to G ft. long, 4¾ ft. wide, and 2 ft. high, with the cavity 1½ ft. in diameter; the eggs are brownish white, clouded with darker.

The trumpeter swan (C. buccinator, Rich.) is about 5 ft. long and 7 ft. in alar extent, with the bill 41- in.; bill longer than the head, the feathers on the forehead with a semi-elliptical outline; nostrils with the anterior extremity only as far forward as the middle" of the commissure; tail with 24 feathers; the adults are pure white, the legs and bill entirely black, the latter without any red spot at base. It is found from the Mississippi valley to the Pacific, appearing on the lower Ohio about the end of October, and going south when the ice gets thick; it is very common in the fur countries, breeding as far north as lat. 61° N. The note is more sonorous than in the whistling swan : it is not so wary as the last named species; it is the principal source of the fine down so much prized for muffs and tippets. - A black swan, once considered as apocryphal as a white crow, inhabits Australia. The chenopis atrata (Wagl.), of that continent and Tasmania, is black except a few white primaries and a bright red bill; it is nearly as large as the common swan, and is now not unfrequently seen with it in the parks of Europe and the United States.

European Tame Swan (Cygnus olor).

European Tame Swan (Cygnus olor).