Date: August 2010
Place: Copenhagen, Denmark

The photo was taken at the distance of several meters from these beautiful birds. They were quite relaxed, only the snow-white mother was a bit nervous for its children.
The swans (Cygnus) are common species of the birds class (Aves) in Denmark. One can see them on almost all lakes and in most parks of its capital city, Copenhagen. Often people feed swans – this is why they are so tolerant to human presence there. These gracious birds are quite popular in this country mostly due to the Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytales, namely “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Wild Swans”.

Swans are the largest members of the Anatidae family that contains about 146 species and includes such other well-known birds as ducks and geese. As you can notice, the family represents species of birds that are well-adapted to swimming and living near water. Generally they are herbivorous and monogamous breeders (have only one mate at any one time).
Most of the swan species have either pure white (like the mute swan (Cygnus olor) presented on the photo) or black-and-white plumage. The Australian black swan (Cygnus atratus) is, as its name suggests, totally black (with the exception of white flight feathers on its wings). Their chicks (you can see two of them on the picture) are grey.
An interesting anatomic feature of swans is that they have “teeth” – small jagged parts of beaks that serve for catching and eating fish.
As it has been previously mentioned, these birds are monogamous – they form couples that stay together for many years, sometimes for a lifetime. This is why swans are often seen as a symbol of true love and fidelity. In Hinduism they are considered as saintly living beings in general.

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