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Monday, November 12, 2007

Mute Swans

The Mute Swan (Cygnus olor is a common Eurasian member of the duck, goose and swan family Anatidae.
This species of bird is found naturally mainly in temperate areas of Europe across western Asia, as far east as the Russian maritimes, near Sidemi (Dement'ev,G.P.(1967), Gmelin(1789) and John Latham(1824) reported Mute Swans present in Kamchatka in the 1700s and still nesting there in 2007.[Sladen and King,1976 and Heilprin,J.[Assoc.Press].(2006)] recorded Mute Swans arriving in Alaska across the Bering Strait.

It is migratory throughout northern latitudes in Europe and Asia, as far south as north Africa. [Dement'ev,Sibley,C.] and in the Mediterranean. It is known and recorded to have nested in Iceland [Sutton,G.M.(1962)]and is a vagrant to that area, as well as to Bermuda according to the U.N.Environmental Program chart of international status chart of bird species.

In America, it migrates in the Saskatchewan area,[Greenleaf 2004] across the Hudson's Bay over the Great Lakes into the States, dispersing there through mid continent [Cirianca, HillvNorton (2001)] [USFish&Wildlife,(2006)]. A specimen of Mute Swan dated 1650-1700,was designated as that species by Rufus Churcher,professor of archeology,emeritus, at University of Toronto;Howard Savage,MD,professor and curator of Archaeozoological Comparative Collection at Trent University;Donald Baldwin of Royal Ontario Museum and it appears in Birds from the Ground,a 2003 publication from Trent University,Ontario. Interior swans must often migrate to mid Atlantic coastal locations when lakes freeze over, returning to their nesting area when the lakes open. [S.Dillon Ripley,] (1965), who headed the Smithsonian for many years, wrote that "mute swans have been gracing our rivers and streams since Colonial Days," (1976). They have also been introduced into the US, sometimes as gifts from the Royal Family of Great Britain, to Lakeland, Florida, for example.

A recent revaluation of a watercolor done by John White in 1585,while on a scientific exploration for Sir Walter Raleigh to America, reveals much earlier occupation by Cygnus olor (MuteSwan) on the Atlantic coast. Titled by the artist as simply, "The Swann," it was mislabeled in the 1960s as a "Trumpeter Swan," probably because its bill is black. However,scientists at the British Museum, holder of the collection, say that lead in the paint used by White has degraded over the four hundred years, turning some colors grey or black. The s-curved neck,the knob,the lifted rear feathers, the entire countanence could not be a trumpeter's. Further research is being done.(See: A New World, by Kim Sloan, curator of the John White collection at British Museum)

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