whooper swan defined in 1930 yearwhooper swan - Whooper Swan;
whooper swan - Beak: anterior part depressed and black, basal part quadrangular and lemon-colour; plumage white; legs and feet black. Length, sixty inches; weight, about twenty-four pounds.
The whooper, also called the wild swan and the whistling swan, is a not uncommon visitor to our coasts in winter, and a little over a century ago had a breeding-station in the Orkneys. It is very closely related to the mute swan, but it ranges very much farther north in summer, its breeding-grounds being north of the arctic circle. The nest is bulky, composed of sedge and coarse herbage, and the eggs are four or five in number, and white. Seebohm, who observed its habits in its breeding-grounds, says: ' The whooper is a ten times handsomer bird than a tame swan in the eyes of an ornithologist, but is not really so graceful - its neck is shorter, and its scapulars are not so plume-like. Instead of sailing about with its long neck curved in the shape of the letter S, bent back almost to the fluffed-up scapulars, the whooper seemed intent on feeding with his head and neck under water.' He compares the notes of the whooper to a bass trombone; but the notes are short - three or four trumpet-blasts, keeping time with the upward and downward beat of the wings. He adds: 'The extermination of the whooper in so many of its breeding-places has arisen from the unfortunate habit, which it evidently acquired years ago, before men came upon the scene - a habit which it shares with the goose. Most birds moult their quills slowly, in pairs, so that they are only slightly inconvenienced by the operation, and never without quills enough to enable them to fly. Swans and geese, on the other hand, drop nearly all their flight-feathers at once, and for a week or two, before the new feathers have grown, are quite unable to fly. In some localities the whoopers have had the misfortune to breed where the natives have been clever enough to surround them at the critical period of their lives, and stupid enough to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded of killing the geese that laid the golden eggs.'
Bewick's swan (Cygnus Bewichvi), named by Yarrell after Thomas Bewick, author of a well-known ' History of British Birds,' is of frequent occurrence in the British Islands in severe winters, but is not a regular visitant. It is a third smaller than the whooper, which it resembles in figure and habits.
near whooper swan in Knolik
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