Is there a reason why swans have long necks?


Full screen image – Whooper Swans, Udale Bay, Black Isle, Highland Scotland ©Nick Sidle

Swans are incredible birds, very graceful in flight and you can’t help noticing the long neck as it is extended when they are in the air. It may really help them, on the water the extra height from which they see must be an advantage to keep a look out but in the air you might think it is an encumbrance and they hold it out straight just to cope, not so.

The Royal Society – The role of passive avian head stabilization

Research has shown that the whole neck structure, and it is very complicated – swans have 200 muscles on each side of the neck – acts as a stabiliser so they can still see well despite beating their wings at five times a second.


Scotland’s Birds gallery

Whooper Swan – Cygnus cygnus