Jan 27

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?

Pairing up

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.

mute swan photo

Mute swan pair displaying


Usually mating for life, swans form a strong bond when they partner up. When a pair of Bewick’s swans ‘separated’ last year at the Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre, it made big news.

Bewick's swan photo

Pair of Bewick's swans courting

Family love

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.

Black-necked swan photo

Cygnets riding on adult black-necked swan's back

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.

Mute swan photo

Mute swan in flight

These avian species surely are the epitome of grace!

Lauren Pascoe, ARKive Media Researcher