Elizabeth and I were returning from a provisions run to the Hyper U market when we saw this sight. Were they swans? And what were they doing?
We’d never seens swans in a natural habitat, possessing only Disney-type info on these magnificent creatures. So we pulled our little tin Suzuki over to the side of the narrow road and jumped out, me with camera in hand. The birds were on the other side of the River Voise (yep, River, we would say creek).
We could see that they had a huge nest, maybe six feet in diameter, made of twigs. During the many days we watched them the male would often bring new twigs and do a little housekeeping. He even took turns sitting on the clutch of eggs so his Mrs. could take a nourishment break. But if you’re thinking he was Mr. Nice Guy, think again.
At least to us rubberneckers.
He took a hissing run at us, flapping his enormous wings. (Maybe a wing span of five feet.) We got our butts back in the car in a flash. Got the message!
Our French family told us that it was a wise move. They warn their kids about getting too close to swans.
They also told us that the familiar bird (to them, not us) was monogamous, mating for life.
Monsieur and Madame Cygne, the epitome of marital bliss.
A few facts we learned as we observed them. Swans are vegetarians. I thought they ate little fish.
Up until the French Revolution they were under the protection of the crown, and one could be hanged for killing a swan. Of all the interesting things the French eat, I never heard of roast swan. Their cousins, ducks and geese, don’t get that kind of respect.
The European swan is the Mute Swan. I guess that means they don’t sing a song, because I witnessed that hiss and a sort of trumpeting screech that bugged my eyes out.
There’s a myth that when a Mute Swan dies he can sing in the Everafter. Swan song ring a bell?
They can fly, probably the largest bird that can accomplish it. I would guess they weigh 20 to 30 pounds.
Here’s the 2009 crop: