Wednesday, June 14, 2017 Trumpeter Swan Family

Seward, Alaska

While I was away in Yakutat, I wondered about the nesting Seward TRUMPETER SWANS. I was a bit concerned about the new mother as it seemed she was off the nest quite a bit, even when the weather was wet and chilly. Once, I even saw a hen MALLARD standing on the nest while both parents were enjoying a date together at the local salad bar. Babysitter?

So the day after I got home from Yakutat, I zipped over to the Nash Road wetlands. At first, all I could see were both parents gliding along the far backside of the pond, partially hidden by the tall horsetails and sedges. Then, one tiny light gray puff, a second, and a third appeared next to their enormous, white parents! As the little parade continued, I waited expectantly to see if there were any more babies. One, two, three. Nope, that was it, and just right for these new parents.

The triplets did not look very old, so unless I hear otherwise, I’m going to guess Sunday, June 4th. Happy Birthday, little cygnets!

The parents continued to take good care of their little family, brooding them when chilly, guarding them from predators, and leading them slowly around the pond, mostly at the back, to show them food. Swans do not feed their young. Whenever the adults lowered their long necks into the water, the babies gathered around excitedly, picking up bits of vegetation stirred up by the dredging.

On June 9, I watched one cygnet swim a little too close to its mom while her neck was underwater. He paddled right in front and suddenly, up came the giant neck. It looked like a little cowboy riding a horse! Up and up came the neck. If mom was surprised, she didn’t show it. He, however, was getting squeezed and rapidly rising up. Somehow those little pink feet managed to push off against her neck and he flopped back into the water on the other side, no worse for the ride.

Today, they were feeding much closer to the road. My, how they’ve grown! Only about 10 days old and already their necks are stretching longer. So adorable! They check out everything and eat it, especially the tops of the water horsetail. Somehow, all this vegetation and probably insects is converting nicely into swan.

Another family hatched out about the same time. Mother MALLARD has 9 ducklings to keep track of, including one that I call Peter after the wandering rabbit. Peter is often by himself, peeping loudly, lagging far behind all the other obedient ducklings. I hope he doesn’t end up in someone’s stew pot!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold

Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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