These elegant birds have long held a special place in the nation’s heart and imagination. But now they are dying in untold numbers
To the British, the swan is not so much a bird as a national treasure – the avian equivalent of Dame Judi Dench or Sir David Attenborough. Its unique status is a result of its long and complex history living alongside us, a relationship that goes back well over a thousand years.
Alarm at reports last week that dozens of swans and cygnets have died of bird flu in Shakespeare’s home town of Stratford-upon-Avon – up to half of the town’s population – reminded us just how passionate the British public are about the bird.