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These magnificent birds are the largest members of the duck family and one the largest flying birds. Graceful on water but rather ungainly on land they have featured strongly in our history and culture. Around the world the swan is the subject of many myths and legends.

Our resident swan is the mute swan. The mute swan is considered to be the royal bird. Each year ownership of individual swans is claimed in a ceremony called Swan Upping. This takes place on the Thames in the third week of July and lasts five days, during which the crown and the Vintners and Dyers mark swans to claim ownership of them. After the ceremony the monarch claims ownership of any unmarked swan.

At one time the swans claimed by the Vintners (wine merchants) had two nicks cut into the bird’s bill. This meant that the Vintners and Dyers owned the swans with two nicks - this is the origin of the frequently used pub name - The Swan with Two Necks ( which was a corruption of two nicks). Fortunately for the birds this practice is no longer carried out and instead the birds are ringed.

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