King Arthur is certainly the ruler of the Brighton millpond in Michigan, but most of the time, he’s quite subtle about it. Ducks avoid getting within a neck’s length of him. They know he’ll grab them and move them out of his way although there is some evidence he’s been more aggressive on occasion. With Canada geese, it’s a different matter during the nest and child-raising season. He won’t let them get within hundreds of feet or he’ll charge until they hightail away.
Mute swans most notable facts: they have the most neck vertebrae of any bird on the planet, 23-25 (depending upon the source), and they are among the largest birds able to fly if not the largest (depending upon the source, again). Our king probably weighs in at 25+ pounds and flies from one end of the pond to the other most days. His main territory is at the north end where he and his mate nest.
Where’s his mate these days? That’s a good question. In 2011, she left the pond for a while and then returned. This year, she left in mid-October after raising their one surviving cygnet, but hasn’t been seen since. Perhaps she has died, but I’ve read swans sometimes separate in the fall for a while and males usually preceed females in returning to their nesting grounds. The king might be lazy. He knows he can charm handouts from park visitors who are quite fond of him. Hopefully, we’ll see her return in early spring to nest with him again.
He’s the king in the water but a stumblebum on land. He rarely comes ashore. He’s not built for walking. His big webbed feet get in the way. Last night he reluctantly climbed onto the ice after studying it for a while (below). It gave me a chance to photograph his injured right foot. The webbing was torn by the claws of a snapping turtle in his past (above: left and center). This injury plus a small nick out of his bill are his only identifying marks I’ve noticed over the years.