Monday, June 27, 2011

Mute swans

When I was a child, the only place we ever saw mute swans was in zoos. These huge birds were brought to North America in the 1800s. They are not a native creature, but originated in Asia and were maintained in zoos or private parks here, but have escaped or been purposefully released.

However according to Bird Studies Canada, the birds are now becoming a nuisance and a threat to native waterfowl as well as stream, river and lake aquatic plants.

They are very aggressive - one of the first blogs I ever posted was about a male swan which objected to my stopping to photograph him, his mate and goslings. That big bird came up out of the water, crossed 50 yards or more of lawn and up the bank onto the road. I ran for the car. The huge bird waited - wings unfurled - watching until I drove away before it returned to the pond where it lives. Its wings are clipped and it can't fly away.

Regardless, I always think they are special somehow, and love to see them. But their southern Ontario population has gone from a total of a few birds in the wild in 1962 to more than 10,000. It's not uncommon to see a pair - such as these two photographed for me by a friend near her home in central Ontario, setting up housekeeping on a small lake or river bank. Or a flock floating along on one of the Great Lakes.

Nonetheless, they always produce admiring looks from me and others.
Reminders I suppose of happy childhood visits to the zoo with my family, or of stories about swans floating on the Thames in England and being "royal birds."

They are majestic as they seem to sail along the water heads high or ducking into the water to look for food. Did you know they are not really mute but do have a voice? It's quiet and doesn't carry very far apparently.

Outcries against them have begun since they are so successful at reproducing - they have few enemies and will attack other birds and even humans. But for now, I'm going to enjoy the sight  of them... and hope that somehow, nature will balance. Man's inability to stop interfering with nature has caused so much imbalance in the world today, it's resulted in so much destruction - climate change, invasive species, super-bugs that we can't control.

However for today, I'm going to sit and enjoy nature, and what balance I can see around me. Perhaps tomorrow I will campaign.  But today? I'm enjoying what's around and what is. Hope you enjoy your day and what's around you.


  1. Yes, they are beautiful to observe, and in their own native habitat right at home. It seems these beauties displace and disrupt some of our native water fowl. I have witnessed the problem in urban and suburban areas but really haven't seen a problem in wild areas. In fact, I've never seen one of these except in civilized areas.

  2. You may be right Bill, I rescued one whose wings had been clipped last year and was looking for running water since the river had frozen. It went to live with a fellow and his wife where the river runs year round, it's shallow and fast, and they have a pair of swans. They were going to find a home for it. Interesting you've not seen them in the wild. Thanks for stopping by.