Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & ...

Ben here with the Thursday edition of #BenInNature presented by our friends at Carter Bank & Trust!

The mute swan (Cygnus olor) isn't native to the U.S., but you'd be forgiven for thinking it was! These beautiful swans are actually native to the temperate parts of Europe, but after being introduced in the U.S. in the 1870s, America is now home to the largest population of mute swans outside of their native range!

Unfortunately, mute swans have become an invasive species in the U.S. and they have a severe negative impact on underwater vegetation. Unlike most invasive species, the public tends to fight efforts at controlling mute swan populations. Of course, if northern snakeheads and spotted lanternflies were as graceful and charismatic as these swans, they would probably have legions of defenders as well.

While mute swans may be beautiful, they aren't afraid to throw down. If you get near a mute swan nest or get between a mute swan and its mate or offspring, your day is going to take a turn for the worse. Swans attack intruders and predators by striking at them with bony spurs in their wings and biting them. Best to just admire them from a distance!

ABOUT #BenInNature
Social distancing can be difficult, but it presents a great opportunity to become reacquainted with nature. In this series of posts, Administrator of Science Ben Williams ventures outdoors to record a snapshot of the unique sights that can be found in the natural world. New updates are posted Monday - Friday, with previous posts highlighted on the weekends. This series of posts is made possible thanks to the support of VMNH Corporate Partner Carter Bank & Trust (

If you discover something in nature that you would like help identifying, be sure to message us right here on Facebook with a picture (please include location and date of picture) and we'll have our experts help you identify it!

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