The White Swan (Cygnus cygnus), is the national bird of Finland.
It is a large white water bird, with yellow color visible on the peak, the young swans are grey in color. They are identified also from their “whooping” or “Tooting” trumpet sound. Adult swan weighs approx 6.5-11.5 kg, their wing span is about 2.3-2.4 metres apart. They make their nest in the reeds on water, or it can be on dry land also. They lay their eggs in May-June, 4-6 eggs, the female hatches them for 40 days. The newly hatched swans are able to fly in 45-60 days time, the swan adults live in pairs and relatively private during their nesting time and fend off other swans/birds aggressively.
In the 1950 white swans almost became extinct in Finland, they became protected and their numbers have increased rapidly since then. It is estimated that there are 4500-6000 pairs of swans during the summer, most migrate to and fro from Finland each year, however some stay the winter depending on the winter conditions and available water free of ice cover.
The white Whooper swans can been seen at quiet bays of the sea shore paddling in pairs, they are obviously planning ahead for another successful egg hatching summer. They constantly swim/feed what seem to be some kind of sea weeds/tubers/grass.
“In the Finnish epic Kalevala, a swan lives in the Tuoni river located in Tuonela, the underworld realm of the dead. According to the story, whoever killed a swan would perish as well. Jean Sibelius composed the Lemminkäinen Suite based on Kalevala, with the second piece entitled Swan of Tuonela (Tuonelan joutsen). Today, five flying swans are the symbol of the Nordic Countries and the whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) is the national bird of Finland”.-Wikipedia.
White Swans in Mythology and Antiquity.
In the rock art of Karelia there are pictures of swans, those people are sometimes called the “water bird nation”(vesilintukansa). According to the belief of the Karelian people the white swans should not be harmed, if they were harmed the same fate would return on that person as the injured swan. Because when swans are feeding their heads are submerging under the surface of the water, therefore it is believed that swans have access to the underworld/hades as well.
Artists, Musicians and Poets inspired by the White Swans.
Sibelius with “Lemminkäinen” and Eino leino with the “Swan of the Hades” have been inspired by the symbolism that first started in picture art.
“Oi, valkolinnut, vieraat Lapin kesän, te suuret aatteet, teitä tervehdän!
Oi, tänne jääkää, tehkää täällä pesä, jos muutattekin maihin etelän!
Oi, oppi ottakaatte joutsenista! Ne lähtee syksyin, palaa keväisin.
On meidän rannoillamme rauhallista ja turvaisa on rinne tunturin”.
When translated it brings thoughts like these:
“Oh the visiting white birds of the Lapland summer, the great idealogical beings, you i welcome! Please stay, make your nest here, if you do go to the lands of the south! Oh, do study and learn from the Swans! They leave in the autumn, and return in the spring. There is peace on our shores and safety on the breast of the Tundra“. -own translation.