The graceful winged form of the swan has inspired works of art from fairy tales to ballets, and its profile is recognized immediately by even the most cursory of bird admirers. Now the newest addition to Reaktion’s acclaimed Animal series examines the fascinating story behind this elegant bird.
The natural history of the swan is surprisingly complex, as Peter Young reveals, delving into the bird’s habitat and feeding habits, the physiological details of the eight surviving species and several extinct ones, the bird’s power and endurance, and the formation flying that allows them to conserve energy and fly great distances with speed. Swan gives equal treatment to the long and rich role of the swan in human culture, from the Greek myth of Leda and the Swan to the bird’s portrayal in sculpture, furniture, and brand name logos. Young also details the challenges facing conservation efforts to protect swans from human consumption and material goods.