Swans (All About)
The swan is unmistakable. It is a large white bird with a long neck and an orange beak and it lives on ponds, lakes and canals. It is found in ponds in parks, in cities and towns and on rivers and lakes in rural areas. It also can live in estuaries by the sea. Swans are thought to mate for life and a pair will occupy a territory on a pond or river and build a nest each spring.Read moreRead less
Nests are large affairs made from reeds and sticks, and litter and rubbish can be added in too. Five to seven eggs are laid between March and May and incubation takes about 36 days. The young are called cygnets and they are able to swim the moment they hatch out. They are minded very well by both parents who will attack intruders by snorting and hissing at them, raising up their feathers in a threatening manner and indeed attacking if pressed. The young are taught to feed on submerged vegetation which they collect by upending themselves, stretching down with their long necks and pointing their tails up in the air. They will also come to eat bread if they are fed.
Young swans have browny-grey feathers and they don’t get the snowy white feathers until the springtime. At this stage they leave their parents and assemble in large bachelor herds at coastal estuaries or other good feeding grounds. Here they will stay until they are old enough to breed at two or three years of age.
Migratory swans have straight necks and yellow and black bills. These are Whooper swans which come here in winter from Iceland and Bewick’s swans who come from Russia and Siberia. These pass the winter in Ireland and return to their northerly breeding quarters when the snow and ice there has melted in mid-April.
Things to do with Senior Infants
1. Tell them the story of the 'Children of Lir' or Hans Christian Anderson’s 'The Ugly Duckling'
2. Take them to the park to feed swans with bread if there are any in the nearby locality.
3. On their return get them to draw pictures of swans in their copies and colour in the beaks