Do swans understand the concept of "Hello" & "Goodbye"?

Hi! I read online that swans greet each other with a nod of the head.  So when I approached a couple of swans a few months ago I'd nod my head and after a while they began reciprocating.

When I leave them I always say "Bye" or "Going now" as a signal that feeding time is over and after a while I noticed they were doing the head-nod greeting to me as I left.

This may sound like I have an overactive imagination, so here's the video evidence :)

  • That's fascinating, Nathan. Birds may not be able to speak our language but non verbal communication is often seen between animals of the same species. Good evidence that it can also work between different species. I shall have to try it when I next encounter swans.



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  • Hello Nathan.
    Not overactive at all.

    I used to swim with Swans each morning before work, just before sunrise, and found them to have an interesting approach to (let's flatter myself and my singing/humming abilities) music. Perhaps you could try that out too? I can recommend particular pieces...

    At least two of our cats have adopted a briskly raised head as a way of greeting; not something I've seen a cat do before in any circumstance.

    As someone said a while back in the forums of a UK daily, given the similarity of our DNA, animal intelligence and emotional intelligence is the nul hypothesis. And it looks to me like you've learned (or have been taught) Swan, rather than vice versa.

    Best regards -
  • Well they certainly seem to be acknowledging you Nathan. Nice video

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  • Hi Nathan, lovely video clip and interesting too; there is so much we still don't know about animals and the abilities to communicate with them in some way whether it is a simple pattern of routine they get used to and therefore learn to trust us or a deeper meaning; When birds get used to seeing you, especially if food is involved, they will put enormous trust in us and recognise us as no threat; I've been privileged to have had a Great Spotted Woodpecker almost at my feet and a Wren on my lap when in the garden when I've had live mealworms to offer them. The birds are not "trained" to come so close, they just learn to trust and the focus is food, especially when they have young to feed, You learn a lot from birds, as you have done and proven, by simply spending time with them and observing birds and their characteristics. Even when birds look very similar, you can often pick out which is which when you have spent quite some time studying them and can almost anticipate what they may do next ! Thanks for sharing such a lovely story and clip.    


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • Brilliant clip Nathan it certainly looks like they are welcoming you, it is brilliant to get interaction between wildlife of any kind when they trust you.

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  • Nathan have a look here
    Scan down and it does say if you make eye contact they will greet you with a hello.

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  • In reply to Alan.:

    Great link Alan.