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.