I tried really hard, but I just can’t go that long without a bird post. At least I gave you a little bit of a break, but as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow, we are once again featuring a feathered friend .. wait, let me put a little more emphasis on that .. featuring a NEW bird to the blog.
To be honest, I kind of held back on this one during Project Checkov. I had plenty of ‘S’s for that particular post, but I did wimp out and use the Mallard for the ‘M’ entry when in fact I had this water bird available. Wait a minute, I might not have mentioned the whole basis for Project Chekov. I think I at least hinted that there was a theme in a previous post but maybe didn’t state it for those that didn’t figure it out. Each entry of that post started with a different letter in alphabetical order. That element made the effort extremely difficult requiring a number of days to lay out that series with the photographs that were in the backlog. If you didn’t catch that you may have underestimated just how hard that project was. Oh and of course the name was a play on the fact I was trying to complete a bunch of CHECK OFFs on my bird list. There isn’t a real check mark until a picture is taken and it shows up on this blog. There was one and only one reason I didn’t go with this bird over the Mallard and that is due to the end of this title – there were too many shots I wanted to feature and why this post is really spread out over two parts. Rather than get ahead of myself, let’s focus on the aspects of this set of Mute Swans!
All of these pictures were taken down at Banner Marsh in Banner Illinois over different visits to the marsh. Every time we head down there, we are greeted by at least one Mute Swan hanging out among the weeds or enjoying a slow paddle on the water. I never really thought much of it while taking the shots, but this particular Swan has a pretty narrow distribution in North America predominantly around the Great Lakes region. They are primarily a European and Asian Swan but introduced into North America in the late 19th century. Some consider the Mute Swan an invasive bird due to their disruption to the natural waterfowl population.
Hit the jump to see a few more shots of these rather large birds.
From a photographer’s perspective, I really like the first two shots. The lighting is a little more muted (hehehe) in those, but it seems to help the overall calmness of the scene. Not to mention the first one has cygnets – score! With that said, the following shots are not the best execution – they tend to be a little soft and taken in pretty harsh lighting. Not to mention they were taken at the full extent of The Beast across a large pond.
.. but they have cygnets! This pair was busy guarding their little ones and keeping a lookout for anything foolish enough to take on these large and aggressive birds. Notice the cygnet in the middle mimicking the parents in the following shot… perhaps mocking might be a better description.
… which the mother doesn’t seem to take too kindly in the next shot. Also take note, both of those adults were keeping an eye on me to make sure I stayed in place even though crossing that body of water had never once crossed my mind since it is filled with snakes and snappers. Top that off with Wikipedia’s description they are able to defend coyote attacks and may even have a wing attack that can break a man’s leg (they didn’t seem too convinced of that in the article). They were dead on in that fact they will claim a large territory for themselves – we have never seen more than one pair out at Banner per visit.
Although their cygnets possess a fragile look to them, their parents will make any adversaries pay for an attack. Wikipedia did mention their common predators are snapping turtles which is kind of sad – having dealt with one in my own yard (link here), these little ones wouldn’t have a chance. The big question is whether the adults can hear them coming and properly defend against those attacks from the deep.
I’ll save some facts for part two and go ahead and close this post. Now to place that check mark!