It might look like your average Michigan swan, well it’s not! Mute Swan can often be perceived as native swan. The most noticeable feature which distinguishes the species from native swan species; has to be beak appearance. Trumpeter Swan usually have black beaks, while adult male Mute Swan has an orange beak. Michigan swan are generally louder than the invasive species, and have differently shaped necks. These invasive organisms are native to Europe, and were introduced to Michigan in 1919. As Mute Swan were introduced to the US environment, they brought along with them their aggressive behaviors and diets. Read on to learn more about their aggressive tendencies.

Mute Swan have been known to degrade the vegetation of our natural areas. The invasive diet is not a sustainable component of the interacting ecosystems. Mute Swans feed on the roots of plants and diminishes the vegetation before it has enough time to replenish in the environment. Since Mute Swan has been introduced, they reproduce at alarming rates and easily proliferates around our Great Lakes, wetlands, state parks, inundated environments, and other coastal areas in Michigan. The species also depends on plant based diets in the growing season, which could be crucial to plant propagation for that year. Michigan’s environments can be especially vulnerable to degradation of its plant resources,and this will make food resources scarce and create more competition for resources amongst native organisms. Experiments concluded that these waterfowl can eat up to 8 pounds of vegetation for metabolic processes and food energy.

Mute Swan live long lasting lives and and have fast reproductive rates. For example; a Mute Swan of Rhode Island is dated to be 26 years of age. With these characteristics of the Mute Swan population in effect, they can successfully increase their population densities of Michigan territories. Mute Swan pose more of a threat to northern Michigan counties, but they are appearing in southern Michigan counties. Their proliferation in native niches increases their chances for survival while decreasing native organism’s fitness in Michigan. Proper management of the Mute Swans species is critical to conserving the intrinsic value of Michigan’s resources.

Mute Swans create competition amongst native swans such as ; Black tern, Trumpeter Swans, Common Loons, and other local birds.  Habitat destruction, interspecific competition, and human harm are few of many problems which Mute Swan introduces to Michigan. This invasive swan has also been known to aggressively attack humans.  Humans can be vulnerable to aggressive attacks if they come within a range too close to Mute Swan nests and eggs. Mute Swan have been known to attack if these areas are threatened or approached. Next time you observe a flock of swan, be sure to search for some key characteristics to help distinguish the species. Mute Swan proliferation rates are increasing, and these invaders should not be competing for resources of our native swan. Awareness of the species will contribute to Michigan’s efforts to eliminate the species and conserve our beautiful habitats from destruction!

This article is part of the ongoing series on invasive species funded in part with funds from the Michigan Invasive Species Grant Program through the Departments of Natural Resources, Environmental Quality, and Agriculture and Rural Development

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