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The owners of swans were duty bound to mark their property by way of a succession of unique nicks in the beaks of their birds. It was the duty of the Royal Swanmaster to organise the annual swan-upping, a tradition that survives to this day. The role of swan-upping was to round up unmarked cygnets and once the parentage of the cygnets had been established to the Swanmaster's satisfaction, the birds could be marked appropriately and returned to the wild.


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The ceremony exists these days in a largely symbolic form, although as an exercise it is useful in monitoring the condition and number of swans on the Thames. The only two companies that still observe the tradition of owning swans on the Thames are the Worshipful Companies of Vintners and Dyers. The Royal swans are no longer marked, but an unmarked mute swan on the Thames is regarded as belonging to the Queen by default.

The Queen still maintains an officially-appointed Swan Keeper, and the ceremony still takes place on the Monday of the third week in July. The Queen has a prerogative over all swans in England and Wales.

Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond

The Swan Keeper also despatches swans all over the world, sent as gifts in the Queens name. We use cookies on our website to help give you the best online experience. Tell me more. What do the birds say?


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An amazing achievement in spring ! Climate change and nature are interconnected We are in a climate and nature emergency. Rewild your morning: Free Birdsong Radio app from the RSPB celebrates glorious UK birdlife Free radio app will transmit continuous loop of ambient birdsong, featuring red-listed species. Nightjar A nocturnal bird that can be seen hawking for food at dusk and dawn.

Trumpeter Swans Singing a Happy Tune - Credit Valley Conservation Credit Valley Conservation

Ring Ouzel male ring ouzels are particularly distinctive with their black plumage with a pale wing panel and striking white breast band. Tools for effective campaigning Our guides will help you get your voice heard.

Volunteer Explore these pages to find an opportunity that suits you. Minsmere There's so much to see and hear at Minsmere, from rare birds and otters to stunning woodland and coastal scenery. The animal depicted is the mute swan. The characteristic knob at the base of the beak should be black instead of white as shown here. They say that the swan sings so sweetly because it has a long, curved neck; inevitably, a voice forcing its way through a long, flexible passage produces a variety of tones.

Hope B. McCormick Swan Pond

They say, moreover, that in the far north, when bards are singing to their lyres, large numbers of swans are summoned by the sound and sing in harmony with them. But when, at the very end, the swan dies, it is said to sing very sweetly as it is dying. Likewise, when the proud man departs this life, he still delights in the sweetness of this present world and, dying, remembers the evil he has done. Of the Swan. Fingerprint Aberdeen. Research Projects.