Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: How good is a swan's sense of smell?
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 21 July 2014
In Response To: How good is a swan's sense of smell? (Nicole)

Hi Nichole:

At first, many researchers believed that birds’ olfactory sense (smell) was not as well developed as their hearing and sight, thus this would be the least sense to be used. However, many recent studies indicate that birds do have a well-developed olfactory sense and in certain species, the sense is much more pronounced. Some birds use their sense of smell to search for food and some research has shown that birds can use their smell to distinguish individual members of the flock. Research in swans is limited, but if the sense of smell holds the same effectiveness as in other bird species, then it is possible that the swans use smell to recognize other swans, but not necessarily to determine if there have been other swans in their area, rather their own young.

We would suggest that sight, (noticing something rearranged in the area) or hearing (sounds that other swans are present in the area or have fled) would play a prominent part in realizing that the habitat has been intruded. Also, it is noted that some research states that the uropygial oil (preen) gland may help in swans distinguishing between other swans. The oil when spread over the feathers and onto the eyes reacts with the ultraviolet rays from sunlight which can help the birds receive an active form of Vitamin D3 when preening by possibly ingesting the oil. Furthermore, swans are theorized to see colors in the ultraviolet range and the oil may make colors, sex and identification of other birds more prominent. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

How good is a swan's sense of smell? -- Nicole -- 21 July 2014
Re: How good is a swan's sense of smell? -- The Regal Swan -- 21 July 2014