Think of a graceful species. What comes to mind? The Andean flamingo with its charming courtship dance? Perhaps the springbok with its agile leaping? Or even the effortless movements of the Atlantic spotted dolphin?
Yet it’s the charm and elegance of the swan that has been made famous for centuries through the ballet Swan Lake. With the recent release of the Oscar nominated Black Swan captivating international audiences, these emotive species have been winging their way back into the spotlight. So what is it about these species that has led them to become romantic icons rather than just ugly duckings?
Their charming courtship display may play a part in it. The bending together of their longs necks creates the famous heart-shape pose, surely appealing to all romanticists out there.
We may think of them as ugly ducklings, but swans take their parental care seriously. Both parents play a part in the upbringing, even carrying the cygnets on their backs when swimming.
Graceful when on the water, they may not be the most elegant of fliers. The fact that they can take to the skies at all is impressive: the mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds in the world.
These avian species surely are the epitome of grace!
Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher