Friday, October 1, 2010

The Swans Took Flight

Anyone who has followed this blog at all knows that I have an inordinate attraction to the swans at Striebel Pond.

I started watching them early in the Spring when mother nested:

And Dad spent endless hours and days cruising around nearby, keeping watch:

Then there was the happy, triumphant post with pictures after the six babies were born:

I wrote about and photographed how protective the Dad (or cob) was:

I tried to keep you updated on their growth and changes:

And always I mused about their future. I wondered if they would migrate and I realized that if they did, the six babies would probably not return. After all, we've seen how protective they are of their personal habitats.

As the summer wore on, their habits seemed to change. Every evening they would gather at the southeast corner of the pond and, together, perform their toilette.

The cob seemed to watch while the mother (or pen - in the foreground here) seemed to show the youngsters the finer points of good grooming.

Then one evening, as I was about to cross the path that separates the north and south ponds, something breathtaking happened. I saw a flock of large, mostly white birds take flight. They were larger than geese and could have looked a little like the great white herons, with their long necks and wide wingspans, except that there were so many flying together. They were the swans.

I don't think there was anyone walking, jogging, or bicycling at that pond that didn't stop to watch them. One person who was near me as they approached told me to listen for the strange sound they made when they flew; but they weren't quite close enough to hear it. No worries though because when they reached the south edge of the pond, they turned around and came back.

The sound was kind of a high pitched whirring and I guess it was made by their wings. They also seemed to chatter quietly to each other as they flew.

Back and forth they went and probably made at least six passes before they settled into the south pond.

And I felt sure they were practicing for a much longer flight.

After that, there were times when the pen and her cygents (baby swans) were nowhere to be seen but always the cob would be there perhaps making sure that no one moved in on their territory while the family was away. Two or three days might pass with no sight of the main family and then all of a sudden they would be back. Where do they go? And why?

One day I saw this strange sight.

They seemed to be lined up to make their way into the reeds at the site of their birth. This is exactly where their nest was. I'm not sure if my picture taking disturbed them or if their curiosity was satisfied, but later on they were all swimming about like they normally do.

Still, there are days when I don't see them yet the cob cruises around at the corner of the pond where their nest used to be.

I speculated at one time that they might be hiding in the grasses and reeds - perhaps laying low and fattening up in preparation for a long flight, but that doesn't make much sense.

On the other hand, neither does their flying to a different pond for a couple of days.

So I wonder. What are they up to now? Does anybody know the habits of these beautiful creatures?


  1. Hmmmm, I have no idea what their habits are, but it sure has been fascinating watching them grow up and seeing their daily routines through your pictures! It's really cool to see the whole family up in flight together, I wonder when they'll be gone for good?

  2. I was afraid you were going to say they were gone. I, too, think that was a practice run. I don't know much about swans but have sure enjoyed watching yours. Thanks for your sweet comment about my birthday boy!

  3. I too thought you were going to say the took flight and didn't come back. If it gets as cold as it is supposed to Sunday night, they may take off.


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