Tag Archives: Cygnus olor
Mr. Swan is back to frequenting both Niles and Henry’s Pond. He’s reveling in the return of warmer temperatures, which with it bring access to his preferred freshwater nesting sites. As I was walking alongside the pond at twilight, he suddenly flew overhead. I wish I had a better photo, but here you can see he is flying well, and it was wonderful to see him looking so full of vigor in the fading rosy light.
The Young Swan is also faring well this winter. His kindhearted caregiver Lyn has taken to calling him Thomas, after Farmer Thomas Niles, who at one time owned all of Eastern Point, and for whom Niles Pond and Niles Beach are named.
A number of friends have been texting and emailing that they are seeing a swan all along the Annisquam. I suspected that it was Mr. Swan as I have seem him on the Annisquam, near the bridge and Cape Ann Marina after he lost his second mate. It would be swan-logical that he would head over to the Annisquam in search of open, fresh water because both Henry’s and Niles ponds are still frozen.
Thanks to Craig Kimberley, who texted a swan sighting in real time, I was able to get a closeup of the swan, and YES, it is Mr. Swan that many of our readers are seeing. Mr. Swan’s bill is uniquely marked and he has beautiful blue eyes, which is unusual for most Mute Swans seen in these parts. In the closeup photo above it is difficult to tell his eyes are blue. It’s much easier to notice when his eyes reflect sunlight, but trust me, if it were a black-eyed swan, you would not be able to distinguish the iris at all.
Thanks so much to Craig, Brianne, and facebook friends for sharing your Mr. Swan sightings, so very much appreciated 🙂
Thanks to Lyn Fonzo, Dan Harris, Skip Munroe, Skip Hadden, Duncan, Stephanie, Lillian, a bunch more Eastern Point residents, Steve Monell and a pair of “angel” swans, our Mr. Swan has flown off the ice at Niles Pond. As Lyn shared earlier, two Mute Swans flew to Niles Pond, precisely to the same spot where Mr. Swan was resting. They must have been very tired because the mysterious swans immediately closed their eyes and took a nap while Mr. Swan watched over the pair. He eventually dozed off, too. After a long rest, all three departed the Pond, circling around and then heading over Brace Cove towards Rockport. Mr. Swan had some difficulty but perhaps encouraged by the presence of companions, he successfully took off.
Without Dan and Lyn’s overnight vigilance against a coyote attack, our daybreak watch, and the angel swans I think it unlikely Mr. Swan would have survived this latest escapade. Our most heartfelt thanks to all who are keeping good watch over Mr. Swan and friends.
Mr. Swan is the tiny lump on the ice toward the left. We don’t want to see you at Niles Mr. Swan until the Pond thaws!
When temperatures plummeted in December, Mr. Swan moved to one of his favorite winter territories, Rockport Harbor and the adjacent coastline, where the salt water rarely freezes. My theory is that the January thaw we experienced over the past several days drew him to freshwater Niles Pond and I imagine, he expected to find a thawed pond. This is only a theory, but in trying to think like a swan and understand why he would be so uncharacteristically foolish, it is my best assumption.
Maneuvering on ice can be extremely difficult. In order to take off for flight, swans run a short distance on top of the water. Trying to gain the traction needed on ice may be nearly impossible.
After spending a good part of the day in the center of the pond, I coaxed him over to the edge where there was a patch of open water. He ate a little bit of corn, although not nearly as much as usual. He appeared to enjoy the freshwater but then at dusk, he half flew-half ran back to the center of the pond.
Extremely concerned about coyotes, Mr. Swan’s caretakers Lyn and Dan checked on him throughout the night. I took the dawn shift and found him alert and preening. He made several attempts to walk, but then would plop down and tuck his head under his wing to sleep and to keep warm. Eastern Point residents Duncan and Stephanie, and ice boat sailor Steven, offered to help while Lyn, Skip Munroe, Lois, and I conferred on the phone. We decided the best plan of action would be to capture him and return him to Rockport Harbor. At 9am Skip and Dan determined that the ice was okay to walk upon. They fearlessly walked onto the pond and at one point Lyn followed with blankets. After first attempting to capture him, they then herded him over near Skip Hadden’s dock. Skip, Skip, and Dan again tried to capture him. He’s a very smart swan, wily and wild, and after several unsuccessful attempts, we decided to not tire him out and try to feed him, and help him as much as he would allow, from Lyn’s little beach.
Mr. Swan at sunrise and trying to negotiate the ice.
Shortly after, and unbelievably, A PAIR OF TRAVELING SWANS flew into Niles, near Lyn’s beach, next to Mr. Swan. At the moment, while writing this post, all three are sleeping peaceably together in a little group!
Newly Arrived Swans!
We’ve all been hoping so much that the Young Swan would be a female and that romance, or at the least friendship, would blossom between it and Mr. Swan. The results are in and our little she is actually a he. The news is somewhat dismaying because we do not know how Mr. Swan will react once he makes a determination. Will he allow the Young Swan to continue to live at Niles in the spring or will he drive him off? Perhaps Mr. Swan, who is at least 28 years old this year, will not be as territorial as would a much younger male Mute Swan and the two will live peaceably. For now, he is in the good care of Lyn and decisions won’t need to be made for a few months.
Notice how greatly the Young Swan’s plumage has changed over the past few months. In the photo on the left, he is four months old. In the next two photos, he is approximately eight months old.
Cape Ann Swan Update: Our little rescue swan, which Lyn has been valiantly and lovingly taking care of in her new winter quarters fit for a princess swan, is doing beautifully. Mr. Swan’s winter headquarters when the freshwater ponds are in a deep freeze is mostly Rockport Harbor to Front Beach and Lois reports he is doing fabulously as well, too!
Mute Swans in our region need our help to survive the winter. There simply isn’t enough wild food available, especially in a brutally cold winter such as the one we are currently experiencing, with freshwater ponds frozen solid. The very best thing to feed swans is whole corn and cracked corn. You can try greens such as washed and undressed romaine lettuce, spinach, and kale, but they will mostly go for the carbohydrate rich corn. What is the worse and most deadly food to feed swans, causing long term health problems? You guessed it–junk food and white bread. Please don’t give our local birds and wildlife human junk food, it’s a killer! This includes but not limited to chips, cheetos, crackers, and stale bread.
Be safe when feeding swans and don’t get too close.
We purchase our corn in bulk from the Essex Bird and Pet Shop, located at 121 Essex Avenue. In a pinch, Stop and Shop also carries small bags of cracked corn.
Two tips from Mr. Swan’s caretakers: 1) When feeding swans, feed at the water’s edge. Swans like to swallow water while they are eating. 2) Mr. Swan usually has a bevy of quwackers in tow and they so vigorously try to eat the corn, and there are so many of them, there oftentimes isn’t enough food for Mr. Swan. Mr. Swan’s caretakers will throw a scoop of food in one direction to distract the ducks and at the same time toss some down directly in front of Mr. Swan. This distraction technique works for a bit of time before needing to be repeated.
Lyn set up a tub in the Young Swan’s winter home. It’s quite nice, and she loves it. Her first order of business was to wash her neck, and then she jumped in!
If you would like to help with the expense of taking care of the Young Swan this winter, please send a check (tax deductible) to:
Cape Ann Wildlife
P.O Box 405
Essex, Massachusetts 01929
Or you can donate online at: http://www.caw2.org/
Be sure to include in the memo that your donation is for the Young Swan.
Not only collards, but kale, spinach and, Lyn reports, she is extra bananas for romaine lettuce, even trying to take them from Lyn’s hand! Lyn has added a fantastic improvement to the swan’s winter sanctuary and will update tomorrow when not so tied up with Christmas-making 🙂
Lyn Fonzo Photo
Joel and Skip Munroe arrived yesterday morning at Lyn’s home and the three spent the day continuing to modify the chicken coop-turned swan house-turned fantastic sanctuary (Joel is one of Mr. Swan’s caregivers and a carpenter). Lyn has generously added her dog’s run to extend the swan’s home, providing room enough for the Young Swan to stretch her wings and walk around within the enclosure.
Increasing the size of the enclosure.
Today, the very awesome landscaper Patrick Low, owner of JPL Landscape Solutions spent the morning modifying and attaching the (former) dog run to the chicken coop and securing the entire structure from predators such as coyotes and racoons. Pat, Joel, and Skip have very generously donated their time and services to creating the winter swan sanctuary.
Pat Low, creatively solving potential predator issues.
A friend of Lyn’s is donating three bales of hay. To supplement the pellets and corn Lyn has been feeding the swan, yesterday she purchased collard greens (which the Young Swan loved), spinach, and kale (yet to try).
We still do not know whether the Young Swan is male or female. Jodi Swenson kindly paid for the swan’s checkup at Dr. Cahill’s (with funds provided from her recent fundraiser) and Lyn has volunteered to pay for the DNA test. We should have the results back from the DNA test in several weeks. The Young Swan has a temporary name, TOS, an acronym for The Other Swan, but perhaps when we determine whether male or female we can give her a gender specific name, and possibly tie in a naming contest with a mini-fundraiser, to help defray the unexpected cost of taking care of her for the winter.
The Niles Pond Young Swan, rescued by Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris on Friday, was taken to SeaPort Veterinary Hospital Saturday morning for a wellness checkup and because it is thought she may have contracted round worm at the shelter from where she originated. Dr. Cahill gave her a complete physical, checking on wings, feet, degree of fat on her bones, took an xray, and drew blood for a blood work up. His assistant also plucked a few feathers to send off to a lab to determine the sex of the young Mute Swan. It will take several weeks for the results of the tests, but based on Dr. Cahill’s visual assessment, she appears to be in excellent health!!
Swans can become very defensive when they feel threatened however, the Young Swan has a relatively speaking mild temperament. Lyn and Dan handled her with lots of tender care and caution and no one was bit during during transport and during the exam.
While we were at the vets, Joel Murnroe, one of Mr. Swan’s loyal caregivers and a fine carpenter, was back at Lyn’s home modifying Lyn’s chicken coop, with a larger entryway door and swan-sized rebuilt ramp.
The Young Swan has had an eventful and productive first day in captivity. With much gratitude and thanks to Lyn for taking on the tremendous responsibility of caring for a wild swan for the winter. Our hope is that the Young Swan is a she, and that she will be re-released to Niles Pond this coming spring.
Eastern Point residents Lyn Fonzo and Dan Harris discovered the Young Swan frozen in the ice at Niles Pond early this morning. Dan reached into the water and scooped her up. She seemed relatively tame and did not try to bite Dan as we had imagined would happen. Dan and Lyn carried her to Lyn’s home, where she is currently living in one of Lyn’s chicken coops. Plans are underway to modify the chicken house to make it a bit more swan friendly. Joel Munroe, one of several of Mr. Swan’s caregivers, is also a carpenter and she is planning to help Lyn.
Tremendous shout outs to Lyn Fonzo, Dan Harris, Skip and Joel Munroe, and to Michelle Smith. West Gloucester resident Michelle formerly raised swans and emus on the family farm and she is providing excellent advice on how to care for swans in our New England climate.
Photos and video courtesy of Lyn Fonzo.
New digs for the Young Swan
The thing is, we think that this may be Mr. Swan’s way of encouraging the Young Swan to fly. If she is going to survive a New England winter in the wild, she has to move to saltwater coves and harbors. Niles Pond resident Skip Hadden has seen her fly but she seems to have no interest in leaving the Pond. Niles Pond is freezing over, and unless the Young Swan follows Mr. Swan’s lead, she will have to be relocated.
Mr. Swan is also know as Papa Swan and Buddy to his human friends, and The Boss-of-the-Pond to all avian creatures, from Rockport Harbor to Gloucester Harbor. He will be turning at the very least 28-years-old in 2018. We know this because a gentleman named Skip has been keeping watch over Mr. Swan, along with his first mate, second mate, and cygnets, beginning in the year 1992. A male Mute Swan cannot mate until he is a minimum of two years old and even that age would be considered unusually young.
When Mr. Swan lifts out of the water to stretch his wings as he is doing in the photo below, he reminds me of the story of the Phoenix in Greek mythology. Not only because he has lived a very long life of at least 28 years, which is extraordinary for a wild swan, but because he has an incredible ability to adapt to a constantly changing environment, and to rise from the depths of sorrow. He has survived near capture, physical injuries, boats in the harbors, coyotes, snapping turtles, and the loss of not one, but two mates. He was so deeply distraught after his second mate was killed by a coyote, many of us worried whether or not he would survive. But he has, and magnificently so.
Mr. Swan and the Young Swan were seen again at Niles this past week, without incident, and seemingly quite comfortable with one another. I wish we could see the Young Swan take a sustained flight; she (or possibly he) will have a chance of surviving the winter if she can.
Soaring high overhead, our Mr. Swan is looking healthy at the onset of winter. Thanks to the care he received from his friends over the summer, it appears as though his foot is in much better shape. Keep on rockin’ Mr. Swan!
Is the young Mute Swan at Niles Pond a male or female? Based on outward appearances, the simple answer is we don’t know yet. Notice that there is no pronounced black knob, or protuberance, at the base of the young swan’s bill. Our young swan only hatched in the spring of this year. The knob becomes prominent at about three years of age.
After swans reach maturity, it is easier to distinguish between the two sexes when they are side by side. The male’s knob, also called a blackberry, is larger than the female’s blackberry, and too, his neck is thicker.
In case you were wondering, the swan’s bill will begin to change color at eight to ten months and it will not turn completely orange until the swan is at least one year old.
Compare the difference between the male and female swan in the photo above. Mr. Swan, on the left, has a larger blackberry, thicker neck, brighter orange bill, and is overall larger. He is with is his second mate, Mrs. Swan, and the last cygnet they hatched together.
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$22,765.00!!! RAISED FOR BEAUTY ON THE WING DOCUMENTARY! THANK YOU KIND DONORS!!!!!!!!!!!
WITH THE GREATEST APPRECIATION FOR OUR COMMUNITY OF FRIENDS AND SPONSORS, I AM OVERJOYED TO SHARE THAT TO DATE WE HAVE RAISED $22,765.00 FOR THE DOCUMENTARY FILM “BEAUTY ON THE WING” ONLINE FUNDRAISER!!!
Friends of the Monarch Butterfly: If you would like to help towards the completion of the documentary film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, please consider making a tax deductible donation here:
Donors contributing over $5,000. will be listed in the credits as a film producer.
For more information, visit the film’s website here: Monarch Butterfly Film
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Thank you so very much for your help.
MY DEEPEST THANKS AND GRATITUDE TO LAUREN MERCADANTE (PRODUCER), SUSAN FREY (PRODUCER), NEW ENGLAND BIOLABS FOUNDATION, BOB AND JAN CRANDALL, MARY WEISSBLUM, SHERMAN MORSS, JAY FEATHERSTONE, MARION F., ELAINE M., KIMBERLY MCGOVERN, MEGAN HOUSER (PRIDES CROSSING), NANCY MATTERN (ALBUQUERQUE), DONNA STOMAN, PEGGY O’MALLEY, JOEY C., CATHERINE RYAN, JOEANN HART, JANE PAZNIK BONDARIN (NEW YORK), ROBERT REDIS (NEW YORK), NUBAR ALEXANIAN, PETER VAN DEMARK, PATRICIA VAN DERPOOL, FRED FREDERICKS (CHELMSFORD), LESLIE HEFFRON, JIM MASCIARELLI, DAVE MOORE (KOREA), LILIAN AND CRAIG OLMSTEAD, JOHN STEIGER, PAT DALPIAZ, AMY KERR, BARBARA T. (JEWETT, NY), ROBERTA C. ((NY), MARIANNE G. (WINDHAM, NY), PAULA RYAN O’BRIEN (WALTON, NY), MARTHA SWANSON, KIM TEIGER, JUDITH FOLEY (WOBURN), PATTI SULLIVAN, RONN FARREN, SUSAN NADWORNY (MELROSE), DIANE LINDQUIST (MANCHESTER), HEIDI SHRIVER (PENNSYLVANIA), JENNIFER CULLEN, TOM HAUCK, AND ANONYMOUS PERSONS FOR THEIR GENEROUS HELP.
After a summer of what appeared to be a not-so-happy pairing between Mr. Swan and the new one, the two seemed to have turned some kind of corner. Whether the tolerance is temporary or not, this morning the pair were observed preening within mere feet of each other and the young swan, actually nodded off, with Mr. Swan nearby.
For the sake of this story and in case a romance blossoms, we’ll call her a she. Friends of Mr. Swan have been reporting that he was either very aggressively biting and flying at her, chasing her into the reeds on the far side of the pond, or possibly chasing her to teach her to become airborne.
Mr. Swan has spent nearly the entire summer at Niles Pond, and he may never again return to Henry’s after the terrible debacle of his attempted capture. The day before the recent southeaster wind and rain event, Mr. Swan took off to Rockport Harbor and was seen there by his friends Lois, Joel, and Paul.
The young swan softly crying.
I looked for the young swan at Niles Pond on the day after the storm and much to my surprise, she seemed very lonely. She was softly crying over and over again in much the same manner as I have filmed Mr. Swan when his mate was killed by a coyote several years ago. Her cries were quieter than his, but she definitely appeared to be searching, calling, and distressed.
Yesterday, Niles Pond resident Lyn reported that Mr. Swan had returned to Niles Pond. I’ll relate exactly what I observed this morning. The young swan was at the water’s edge, busily preening. Although she does not yet know how to fly, she certainly knows how to groom and maintain her flight feathers for future flying. Mr. Swan caught sight of me and began to swim straight towards us, with his feathers all busked out. She began to swim away from him as he approached and made it about thirty feet. He then flew directly towards her, but this time not in an aggressive way, but in a manner that herded her back to the shoreline. I was honestly very happy and relieved to see this because I really did not want to witness Mr. Swan attacking her again.
The soft colors of the first hatch year feathers matched the soft colors reflected off the water in the early morning light.
Both were now at the shoreline and both began to preen, only several feet apart, as if they had been doing this their whole life and it was the most normal interaction between them imaginable. I filmed them for a bit when the young swan grew tired of preening and fell asleep, with Mr. Swan keeping an eye out towards the water. Eventually Mr. Swan took off towards his friend Skip’s dock. She then awoke, but stayed behind near the shore.
Are they becoming more comfortable with each other? Is the young swan a girl or a boy (too soon to tell from outward appearances)? Will the young swan ever learn to fly, or is there something wrong with her wings? So many questions and only time will tell. I hope so much both will survive the winter without coyote attack (or some other tragedy befalls them) and we will be able to observe as this new chapter in Mr. Swan’s life unfolds.