Jul 152014
 

Jul 04, 2014 – Carrollton, Texas

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

Our Mute Swan cygnet is now eleven weeks old. The most notable change in his appearance from the week before is the continued growth of his wing and tail feathers. I have included closeup pictures of both towards the end of this article.

My latest information states that juvenile swans must be between 17 and 21 weeks of age before they are able to fly. That means we are looking at around six more weeks for this young bird, best case.

The swan family with a Nutria and some Great-tailed Grackles.

The swan family with a Nutria and some Great-tailed Grackles.

The Nutrias in this picture are feeding on bread left by park patrons.

The Nutrias in this picture are feeding on bread left by park patrons.

A Nutria climbing out of the water.

A Nutria climbing out of the water.

The Mute Swan cygnet at 11 weeks of age.

The Mute Swan cygnet at 11 weeks of age.

Mom swan dozing in the sun.

Mom swan dozing in the sun.

Moving from one side of the lake to the other.

Moving from one side of the lake to the other.

In past updates I have noted how the cygnet has a tendency to hold his left foot out of the water and at odd angles. I have not been overly concerned about this, but as of this week it is beginning to strike me as a little odd.

The water in the lake was a bit clearer than normal this week, and I was able to see that the juvenile swan is only using his right foot to paddle when swimming about. At least this was the case while I was watching him. I am now a little worried that the young bird has hurt his leg somehow, even though an injury is not apparent in any of my photographs.

I will keep a careful watch on this over the next several weeks. Hopefully it is nothing.

The cygnet seems to favor his left leg for some reason.

The cygnet seems to favor his left leg for some reason.

I'm beginning to worry that the young swan has injured his leg somehow.

I’m beginning to worry that the young swan has injured his leg somehow.

The adult male.  Notice the unusual shape of his bill.

The adult male. Notice the unusual shape of his bill.

The following picture shows a take off sequence for a large adult male. The bird was simply moving from one end of the lake to the other, but getting airborne still required a tremendous effort. Here is what Wikipedia says about the size and weight of these large birds and how it affects their ability to fly:

Adults of this large swan typically range from 140 to 160 cm (55 to 63 in) long, although can range in extreme cases from 125 to 170 cm (49 to 67 in), with a 200 to 240 cm (79 to 94 in) wingspan. Males are larger than females and have a larger knob on their bill. On average, this is the second largest waterfowl species after the trumpeter swan, although male mute swans can easily match or even exceed a male trumpeter in mass. Among standard measurements of the mute swan, the wing chord measures 53–62.3 cm (20.9–24.5 in), the tarsus is 10–11.8 cm (3.9–4.6 in) and the bill is 6.9–9 cm (2.7–3.5 in).

The mute swan is one of the heaviest flying birds, with males (known as cobs) averaging about 11–12 kg (24–26 lb) and the slightly smaller females (known as pens) weighing about 8.5–9 kg (19–20 lb). While the top normal weight for a big cob is 15 kg (33 lb), one unusually big Polish cob weighed almost 23 kg (51 lb) and this counts as the largest verified weight for a flying bird, although it has been questioned whether this heavyweight could still take flight.

A takeoff sequence.  Getting airborne is not easy for a bird the size of a mute swan.

A takeoff sequence. Getting airborne is not easy for a bird the size of a mute swan.

The cygnet is nearly fully feathered now.

The cygnet is nearly fully feathered now.

A handsome young bird.

A handsome young bird.

Mom and offspring.

Mom and offspring.

Wing feathers

Wing feathers

Tail feathers

Tail feathers

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

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