Monday, May 24, 2010

Terror At Striebel Pond, Part 3

If you've read my last two posts, you know that a huge drama was playing out at Striebel Pond - one that had all of us humans standing and watching in awe. The resident swan seemed to be making it his business to eradicate geese from the southern pond.

The geese were really frantic.

And with good reason.

The babies waited anxiously and obediently on the shore.

Finally one of the parents was able to make her (or his) way over to the area where the babies waited and called to them.

The little ones came running.

While the swan watched them angrily.

Then he took after the mate who was still in the water.

Even though the goose got behind him, he still acted very pleased with himself. I think he was just trying to make the goose think it was over.

But then he changed direction and took off for the one on the shore with the babies.

Things were looking pretty bleak for the geese. But on the other side of the dividing path in the northern pond, a third adult goose swam back and forth anxiously honking encouragement maybe?

And all of a sudden, it was like he couldn't stand it anymore. He lifted his wings and flew to the other pond and joined the fight. And now, it was really on.

The swan seemed to re-double his efforts to get to the babies while geese distracted him in every way possible.

Finally the geese, with a little help from their friend, were able to gather the babies and head for higher ground.


On my next turn around the pond, the geese had given up. They were all in the north pond and looked pretty okay with it if not a little sheepish.

The next day, the swan family was all together looking serene in the south pond.

What a relief! The geese were nowhere in sight on either pond, and to borrow a phrase from one of my favorite movies, "Once again the world turned in greased grooves".

On closer inspection though, what looked like rumpled feathers on one of the swans turned out to be something much more disconcerting.

So the geese were gone and one of the swans appeared to be badly injured. More on that later.

I went to Striebel Pond to walk everyday and I didn't see any geese for three days. The big battle took place on Wednesday and there was no sign of geese until Saturday. And that's when I made my big mistake. I was walking for speed that day so I didn't take my camera. Therefore, I hope you can just believe what I'm about to tell you.

I saw three adult geese enter the north side of the south pond (the swan's pond). They swam in formation toward the swans on the south side of that pond. They were about 20 feet apart and they were honking boisterously as they swam south. As I walked down that dividing path, Mr. Stare-a-lot stepped out of the tall grass from the north side and had the gall to hiss at me in a menacing manner. I saw that he had his whole family with him. And would you believe that while the three adult geese ran interference, Mr. Stare-a-lot and his family crossed the dividing path, stepped into the water in the south pond and started swimming around like it was their's. The three adults were clearly taunting the swan and before I could complete the circuit, the swan was heading for battle. I took a picture from the parking lot but I was out of energy and couldn't go closer.

But isn't it extraordinary?! I mean really? Could the geese have a strategy? Could they really be helping each other out? That's certainly what it looked like.

It's Monday. I walked today without my camera again. The swans are serene and the geese are gone again. There's an island in the north pond and I wonder if they could be lying low in there waiting for 50 more cousins to come in and help them battle that swan.

Oh, and I found this online:

It is normal for swans to swim with one leg tucked onto their back. People are often concerned that the leg is broken or deformed but the swan is perfectly fine.

Swans will often stretch one of their legs whilst swimming and instead of putting it in the water, they will tuck it up onto their back.
It has been suggested that this behavior may play a role in helping to regulate the body temperature of the bird. The legs and feet are the only part of the swan not covered in feathers so the blood vessels are in closer contact with the air. The large surface area of the webbed foot makes it easier for heat to be transferred from the body to the air, cooling the swan. This heat exchange could also work the other way, with the feet absorbing heat from the air to warm the bird.
Whew! That's a relief. Makes me glad that Department of Natural Resources guy didn't answer the phone when I called the other night. lol


  1. I'd love for you to guest post for me while I'm away ;) You should be getting an info email shortly!

  2. WOW...what a story and what AMAZING pictures to complete it. Great job, Mom, I am soooo impressed! *clapping wildly*

  3. How crazy! Geese and swans can both be pretty mean and territorial, but I didn't know how mean!

  4. This story had me wanting to just speed through to the end to see what happened. I guess this stuff is probably happening all of the time and we don't know it. You got some really exciting pictures! They meant business!!! I think in one of the pictures I saw them flashing gang signs.....

  5. This was a great story and pictures. I can't wait till we walk at this pond. It certainly seems to be where the action is. A guest post at another blog...that is awesome. Be sure to let us know when and where to look for it.

  6. I didn't know that....thanks for sharing, it was disconcerning! The babies are so cute...why can't they all get along!


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