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Mute Swan with cygnets

Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
† see also: Goose, Duck

Swans are large water birds of the Anatidae family, which also includes ducks and geese. Sometimes swans are lumped with geese in the subfamily Anserinae.

Swans mate for life; the number of eggs in each clutch varies both within and among swan species.

Young swans are known as cygnets, from the Latin word for swan, cygnus.

Most species of swan are white, but Australia is home to a species known as the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus), which is black with a red beak and white patches under its wings. The black swan is the official state emblem of Western Australia.

The following are examples:

Genus Cygnus

Mute Swans

Trumpeter Swan

Flock of tundra swans migrating near Alma, WI, USA

Genus Coscoroba

The Anseriformes and the Galliformes ( pheasants etc) are ancestral to neognathous birds, and should follow ratites and tinamous in bird classification systems. See the chart below

For further taxonomic comments, see also Sibley-Ahlquist taxonomy.

Once swans were considered a edible form of poultry. Nowadays they are protected species in many countries. In Britain, for example, all swans are protected by law.

See also: wildfowl, waterfowl
Cygnus, the Swan, is also a constellation in the northern sky.