Apr 212014
 
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NOTE: This post is part of a continuing series of observations: [ First | << Prev | Next >>]

We noted new behavior from the Mute Swan pair almost immediately this weekend. When we arrived at the lake Saturday morning we found both the male and the female swan sitting on the nest together. This was the first time we had observed this kind of behavior from the pair, and it was decidedly different from their normal routine.

Of course, we had a strong suspicion about what was motivating this change in behavior, but it would take a walk to the opposite side of the pond before we could be certain. Over there we were able to find a few places where the nest could be viewed mostly free of intervening vegetation, and we began getting fleeting glimpses of the day or two old cygnets. Our best estimate is that there are at least three new family members, each of a slightly different shade of gray.

From my talks with various park patrons, a clear view of the nest—even from the far side of the lake—is an unusual occurrence. Ordinarily the nest is completely obscured by cattail reeds. People who have watched the swans in past years had to wait for the cygnets to begin to follow their parent into the main body of the lake before getting their first look.

Evidently, the pond dried enough this summer that the city was able to mow around the nesting site. Without this mowing the nest would not have been visible this year. And, as you can see in the following pictures, the reeds are coming back with a vengeance. Soon the nest will be hidden from view once again. We had fortuitous timing this spring!

The cob and the pen together on the nest.

The cob and the pen together on the nest.

Ordinarily the male would be patrolling the lake while the female incubated the eggs.

Ordinarily the male would be patrolling the lake while the female incubated the eggs.

The female (left) and the male (right).

The female (left) and the male (right).

There was a stirring in the nest, and the pen lifted her wing.

There was a stirring in the nest, and the pen lifted her wing.

What did she have hidden there?

What did she have hidden there?

One by one the cygnets made an appearance, but it was difficult to get an accurate count.

One by one the cygnets made an appearance, but it was difficult to get an accurate count.

In this picture there are three cygnets.  That is the most we saw together on this visit.

In this picture there are three cygnets. That is the most we saw together on this visit.

The Mute Swan Family.

The Mute Swan Family.

This little cygnet seemed to be wanting some attention from his father...

This little cygnet seemed to be wanting some attention from his father…

...and dad soon complied.

…and dad soon complied.

This cygnet may be more darkly colored that the others.

This cygnet may be more darkly colored than his siblings.

At last things began to settle down a bit at the nest.

At last things began to settle down a bit in the nest.

The family settled in for a brief nap.

The family settled in for a brief nap.

But just like with an excited human child, this little cygnet was not ready to sleep just because it was nap time!

But just like with an excited human child, this little cygnet was not ready to sleep just because it was nap time!

To him this seemed to be a good time to test out the ol' honker!

To him this seemed to be a good time to test out the ol’ honker!

Eventually, the little guy found his way back under his mother's wing, and the entire family settled in for a brief afternoon doze.

Eventually, the little guy found his way back under his mother’s wing, and the entire family settled in for a short afternoon doze.

NOTE: This post is part of a continuing series of observations: [ First | << Prev | Next >>]

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