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Mute swan | by holland fotograaf
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Mute swan

The mute swan (Cygnus olor) is a species of swan and a member of the waterfowl family Anatidae. It is native to much of Eurosiberia, and (as a rare winter visitor) the far north of Africa. It is an introduced species in North America, home to the largest populations outside of its native range, with additional smaller introductions in Australasia and southern Africa. The name 'mute' derives from it being less vocal than other swan species. Measuring 125 to 170 cm (49 to 67 in) in length, this large swan is wholly white in plumage with an orange beak bordered with black. It is recognisable by its pronounced knob atop the beak, which is larger in males.

The mute swan was first formally described by the German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin as Anas olor in 1789, and was transferred by Johann Matthäus Bechstein to the new genus Cygnus in 1803. Both cygnus and olor mean "swan" in Latin; cygnus is a variant form of cycnus, a borrowing from Greek κύκνος kyknos, a word of the same meaning.

Despite its Eurasian origin, its closest relatives are the black swan of Australia and the black-necked swan of South America, not the other Northern Hemisphere swans of the genus Cygnus.[2] The species is monotypic, with no living subspecies.


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Taken on February 19, 2012