Nesting mute swans in late April near 4th hole at the Fishers Island Club golf course. Meredith Doyen Photo

It’s hard to resist the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, when an ugly duckling grows into the most beautiful swan in the pond.

Unfortunately, New York State’s largest bird can be aggressive to humans, and their voracious appetites often disturb local ecosystems, displacing native species.

Mute swans eat up to eight pounds of submerged aquatic vegetation, including eelgrass, daily. They sometimes completely uproot plants, and often, adult swans will uproot more plants than they actually consume.

Mute swans are not native to North America. They are descendants of swans brought to this country in the late 1800s through early 1900s to adorn large estates, city parks and zoos. They are now a “prohibited” invasive species, which prohibits the sale, importation, transport or introduction of this species in New York State.

Swan family spotted May 22 at South Beach Pond. Marlen Bloethe Photo