Sidenote: Some folks have emailed to ask if I’m still alive. I’m thrilled to tell you I am. The past three weeks has been the longest time I haven’t posted since this blog began five years ago.
I’ve still visited the pond and taken photos, but business commitments have not given me time to post them. On your next few blog visits, scroll below this post. I’ll be posting out of order. The dates will correspond to when things happened rather than when I post them. Sorry for the inconvenience.
March 1: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, right? Our lion is a male Mute Swan who arrived on the first day of this month. Wanda, one of the devoted duck watchers at the millpond, sent me the above photo taken by her cell phone, bless her heart.
March 2: I met the new swan last evening. I’ve named him Ty because he’s a “cob,” a male swan. While I can’t be sure, I think he’s a young bird searching for a mate, something cobs do January-March of their 3rd or 4th year according to Guy Baldassarre, author of Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America, Volume 1, a book with fascinating facts about the species and their Michigan population, the largest in the Midwest (though our DNR isn’t happy about that). Google Books makes it impossible to link to specific pages. The above link gets you to the book. Go to Page 32 for the Mute Swan section.
Ty is a beautiful beast. He’s well fleshed out indicating there’s a chance he’s older than I’ve stated. Swans allegedly mate for life, but Baldassarre dashes that claim by studies in the above mentioned book. Duration of pairs is only 1-2 years for 50% of cobs and 53% of pens (females) of birds. Only around 20% of the birds remain paired for more than five years.
Whether old or young, Ty is looking for a pen who can bring this year’s bouncing cygnets into the world. Will he stick around? I doubt it.
Maggie is too young to breed. She’s in her first year and most pens don’t sexually mature until 3-4 years old. She shows no signs of being interested in even palling around with her new millpond companion as you can see in the top photo.
It was even more apparent last night. Maggie was way off in the darkness (upper left corner, 2nd photo from top) at least 30 yards away from both Ty and the only five ducks roosting at the north end.
It’s difficult to identify specific swans unless they have a unique trait. We are fortunate with Ty. Notice how his “berry” the black lump above and between his nostrils is half-orange on his right side. The other side is more typical being solid black. We’ll be able to tell if he stays with us throughout the approaching summer because of this. Don’t get your hopes up though. I think he’s cruising for a mate and might decide the Brighton millpond isn’t the place to find one. Still, he might like the location and fly back with a sweetheart to set up house. If that’s the case, Maggie will probably be asked to leave. Her dispatch won’t be gentle either. The term “bum’s rush” comes to mind.
Swan Lifeline and the Fairford Swan Aid, both in Great Britain, have well done short articles on their efforts to preserve swans in the UK. You might enjoy learning more about these magnificent birds which are native to Europe.