1. The ferus, Wild, or Whistling-Swan, a bird of passage, which frequents the British coasts in hard winters, but does not breed : it is about 5 feet in length : its body is white; it has a black semi-cylindrical bill, and utters a remarkably shrill note. This variety abounds in North America, in Asia, and in the northern parts of Europe, where great numbers are caught by the inhabitants, to whom they afford a wholesome food: their eggs are very nutritious, and the skins and feathers furnish a warm clothing, especially for muffs.
2. The mansuetus, Tame, or Mute Swan, is (next the Bustard) the largest of the British birds ; being upwards of 5 feet in length, and distinguished by its hissing noise. The bill is red, but the tip and sides are black: in young birds, the plumage is of an ash-colour, till the second year, after winch it becomes perfectly white. The tame Swan is equally remarkable for its longevity, attaining frequently the age of 100 years, as well as for its uncommon strength; for instances have occurred, in which it has overpowered, and severely beaten, young people, 16 years of age. The female of this variety lays 6 or 8 eggs, in the month of February, which she hatches within six weeks. The flesh of the tame swan is very wholesome, and, in ancient times, formed a dish at every feast: at present, however, the young birds, or cygnets, only are eaten ; considerable numbers being fattened about Christmas, at Norwich ; where they are sold, at the exorbitant price of one guinea each.
Lastly, it was anciently believed that the swan, shortly before its death, sings in harmonious strains; but such error has probably originated from observing the flight of these birds of passage, producing agreeable tunes, by the regular motion of their wings.