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All photos, poetry, posts, all content is protected by copyright and may not be used unless otherwise indicated in my post, for example a free pattern or craft directions. All rights reserved by Author © Kerrie O'Hearn Marquart 2009 - 2015

Monday, December 20, 2010

MUTE SWAN BEHAVIOR

WE ARE SO BLESSED TO HAVE RESIDENT SWANS IN OUR COMMUNITY.
This morning when I raised the shades in the den/computer room, I was greeted by the couple.
The male mute swan always approaches first and then the female timidly follows.  The males are very dominant and even bite the female on the side of her head and neck to keep her away from the food.

Mute Swans were brought to America from Europe and escaped from the New York area starting wild swan population.  They feed on aquatic plants and insects.  In winter, they like wheat bread that we throw to them.

They build nests near water in heavy growth or sheltered areas that are as much as 3-4 feet wide.  They can have up to a dozen young (cygnets) hatch in the depression at the top.

Mute Swans are not really mute and make hissing or grunting sounds.  I have had them hiss at me and also make a low growl.  They also posture to warn intruders away by puffing up their body and wings to appear more menacing.  Believe me this works!  Their babies also peep. 

Although they are very accustomed to us as they have been coming back for the 5 years we have lived in this lake filled community, they are never really friendly.  They will accept a hand out but do not blink twice about nipping you and their strong bills could mutilate a finger in no time.  So we respect them and keep a safe distance. 

The female is more timid but only to her mate.  He is very dominant even while eating and she does not come first.     Mallards on the other hand are very considerate of their spouse and will sometimes not eat at all but just keep watch of his mate while she feeds.  This is especially true when they have young.  The Canadian Geese are the same.  The male is ever vigilant and his mate comes first.

  The Swan male however, is always ahead of the female in the water and he can cause a good size wake when he is menacing any creature in his territory.
The couple usually are discolored on their head and neck from eating vegetation but this morning they were both extra white and beautiful.

All of their movements are a study in grace whatever they are doing.  It is so wonderful just to watch and observe.

Their feet are huge, at least the span of my hand from little finger to thumb which is 6 inches.  While graceful in the water, they lumber along on land under their great weight.

The male has been limping for a few days and we are hoping he does not have an infection in his left leg. 
   Swans, Egrets and Great Blue Heron are at the mercy of fish hooks and other debris.  They can swallow a fish hook that has been lost in thick acquatic growth or it can get caught on their bill.  Fish hooks can also get caught in their legs and they will sometimes die from infection from these wounds.


The female is so beautiful and you can tell by her more gentle manner how different she is than the male.  But she also is a fierce combatant when threatened.

  Swans are wild creatures and while beautiful and we tend to want to get closer andfeed them, always be very careful.  A standing swan is easily 4 feet high or more.  In my case, a stretched swan neck could reach my eyes!   As with any animal, respect them and you will not be injured.  If a male swan is making gutteral noises, he is really not wanting you near, so high tail it out of there! Ha!  When they hiss, this sounds like a cat spitting and you will know not to get near if they are doing this, also.
     The Mute Swans are magnificent creatures and I hope you learned something about their behavior today.  We never get tired of seeing their beautiful feathers and how they can glide on the water with wings billowed in a heart shape.  We have also observed courting rituals which are beautiful.  They wrap necks and make little cooing sounds to one another.  They actually hug with their necks.  The only down side is when they have their clutch in the spring, as soon as the young are able to fend for themselves but still fuzzy and gray, the Park rounds the young up and relocates them to prevent an over population.  This saddens me when they are separated!  They do the same with the Canadian Geese, also as they are so numerous and their droppings are everywhere and they are in the middle of the roads all the time.  But with all the lakes, it was a natural nesting site for all of these species and man is the invader.  The Birds just do what comes naturally after raising generations in the area.
   Please come back soon, we love sharing our backyard wild life with you and leave a comment as they make our day!  Thanks!
♥KERRIE♥
My heart to yours...

5 comments:

Ginny said...

What a nice surprise to see this post today! You see, I just recently spent some time with these swans and took lots of pictures. I had seen a different kind of swan earlier, and these were totally different looking. I never knew what they were, so you can imahine my surprise to see them here! These are the swans I saw! I read your whole story with great interest. Now I know all about them for whenever I do my post. I would have never thought they can be dangerous, but then again I know that geese can be.

Doris Sturm said...

Lovely photos and nice explanation of the swans. I think they are so beautiful and majestic looking.

I feel the same about the ducks and one Canada goose at the lake...I always try to learn about the wildlife I'm surrounded by and that makes life more interesting ;-)

I quit feeding them bread, because I read that it only makes them fat and unable to fly, because it's not nutritious and stops them from foraging for their own foods. So, I'm looking around to find some duck pellets, because I can't afford to feed them fresh vegetables, but they are getting tired of cracked corn and God forbid that I am the reason they can't fly - LOL

Have a blessed day!

Kerrie said...

I am sure if we overfed the Swans, geese, etc. that they would become fat but we do not give them too much of anything and I have happily never known one not to be able to migrate due to obesity-ha! I think bottom line is that we are not encouraged to feed any wild animal by naturalists. Hugs, Kerrie

welcome to my world of poetry said...

A wonderful post Kerrie and the photo's are awesome, we have quite a few swans nearby to us but it's lovely to see their beauty wherever they are.

Yvonne.

pattas said...

Merry Christmas :)) thankyou for sharing these pictures with us.
A true blessing to have them in your garden :))