Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mute Swans and Cygnets

There were two sets of Mute Swans hatching eggs at Bayfront Park in Hamilton.  Over a week or so ago, I visited almost every lunch to watch the activities and try and get some pictures.

Male Mute Swan - in challenge display chasing away a Canada Goose .

Mute Swans are actually not native to North America, but were introduced in the late 19th century by the rich to add to their waterways and ponds for the ornamental effect.  They are considered by some as an invasive species because their numbers have grown so much.  Mute Swans are relatively comfortable around people compared to the other North American swans like the Trumpeter Swan or the Tundra Swan.  These are seen less frequently.  Mute Swans aren't silent, but are named this because their calls are much quieter than other swans.

The couple on the reed nest - of the 9 eggs, only a few are visible

Mute Swans are one of the heaviest flying birds.  The male usually weighs about 12kg (26lb) and their wing span ranges from 2 to 2.5m.

Hatching... the female was panting away, grunting a squeaking ever time
there was some movement below her, sheltering with her wings.
They usually mate for life, and create large nests out of reeds, where they will lay a clutch of large, light brown or greenish eggs which are incubated for about 36 days, with the male and female taking turns, but the female taking charge when they are hatching.  The males especially, will very aggressively guard the nest with some pretty exciting chases.  They will even drown other larger birds which sees as a threat.

A little hole can be seen on the left egg, the egg tooth on the beak
just  visible from a cygnet soon to hatch.
Under a protective wing.
I'll post some more of the rest of my shots... But what an amazing process.

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