October 9, 2015 Trumpeter Swan Cygnet Miscalculation

Seward, Alaska

I stopped by the Lagoon around 5 pm this evening to check on the swans. Four of the six resident TRUMPETER SWANS stood in the shallow water at the edge of the Lagoon, busy bathing and preening. It was marvelous to peek into the lives of these beautiful, graceful, wild, and wondrous birds.

As anticipated, after a thorough preening, one after another swan stretched out their magnificent wings and vigorously beat them back and forth. I don’t understand how they remain so firmly grounded with all that unleashed power! All done, the phenomenal, pure-white parent walked majestically to shore, trailed by two copycat, light-gray cygnets to settle down for a nap with the other watchful adult and snoozing cygnet.

One cygnet was not done bathing. He (or she) flipped water onto his back, dipped and ducked, splashed and dashed, flapping short distances with water flying everywhere. After a time, he stopped and tipped up, neck stretched far underwater, as he has learned to do. He paddled expertly to maintain the delicate balance.

Two seconds later, his large, yellowish, webbed feet appeared, and despite the frantic air paddling, up and over he went! I have always wondered whether or not this ever happened, and here was my answer! There he floated, upside down, like a turtle stuck on his back, big white belly up and feet flailing uselessly in the air.

For several more anxious seconds, he struggled. Then a wing elbow popped up and disappeared. Then his neck, and finally his head, as he slowly rolled back upright. It was like watching a neophyte practice an Eskimo roll.

After catching his breath, off he went again, tearing around like a maniac, hydroplaning, half-submerged in the ensuing waterworks. He jetted up to shore, still flapping and made a grand entrance amidst the rest of his serene family, very pleased.

I slowly backed away as he settled down, and departed, smiling. What a hilarious show!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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