Celebrating our swans!
Thanks to everyone who reached out to tell me about our newest residents – the cygnets on Elgin Pond. It’s wonderful to see the swan family gliding across the water. I’ve watched the adults pump their feet, making water currents that free the aquatic plants from the mud below, to help the young feed. How lucky we are that they live here!
Trumpeter swans have made a remarkable comeback from the brink of extinction. In the 1700s and 1800s they were hunted for their meat and feathers. By 1935, there were only 125 breeding adults in Canada and the USA. Conservation efforts to save the species were successful, and there are now over 35,000 trumpeters in North America.
They are the largest species of native waterfowl, with white feathers and black bills, legs, and feet. Cygnets have grey plumage and grey-pink bills, legs, and feet. Swans eat submerged vegetation, dipping their long necks down to the bottom mud. Occasionally they’ll eat invertebrates and small fish. In the winter they may eat grain, grass, potatoes, and carrots.
It’s important to remember that these are wild animals. We can enjoy their grace and beauty, but from a distance. Parents are protective of their young and may become aggressive if they feel threatened.
Canada geese are notorious for attacking people who come too close. Their nickname, “cobra chicken”, describes their hissing warning sounds. Swans are bigger birds – give them plenty of space.
Nancy Melcher is The Nature Nut. Send details of your sightings or questions about the natural world to: email@example.com