For all I know, swans are inwardly tormented creatures. They could be wound tighter than a coil, churning on the inside with deep-seated angst and concern. But if that is in fact the case, swans are masters of concealment — for no other animal or bird projects a more placid demeanor than a swan gliding gracefully and calmly across the surface of a lake.
When you can start the day with a few laps around a peaceful lake on a crisp, bright morning, with a swan for company, it’s sure to put you in a serene frame of mind.
This fall somebody put two fake plastic swans on the little pond at Schiller Park. Since the pond already is teeming with real waterfowl, you could reasonably ask why some fake swans got tossed into the mix. My understanding is that they are supposed to discourage other migrating birds — specifically, those loud-squawking, ever-crapping, aggressive Canadian geese — from landing and fouling the area. Swans and Canadian geese apparently are mortal enemies from way back.
From a distance the swans are relatively realistic looking. The two of them even have different postures. But the illusion of real swans is totally lost when the pond freezes over, as happened recently, and the swans get frozen into immobility.
And yet . . . the Canadian geese still seem to be avoiding the pond, even after the swans have been exposed as fakes. Maybe Canadian geese, like most bullies, just aren’t that smart.
Kasey and I were greeted on our walk this morning by a swan that decided to leave its pond and pose for a few photos on the nearby tee box. Swan are regal creatures on the water, but when you see them on land you realize what large and powerful birds they are. They don’t mind hissing at you, either.
The swan was the early bird when I walked by the pond over the weekend. The ducks were still snoozing and shaking away the cobwebs while the swan was grooming and getting ready for the day.
There’s always an early bird, and there’s always a slugabed.
Two hopeful signs of spring this weekend: this morning I saw that the swans have returned to our New Albany pond, and tomorrow morning at 2 a.m. we will all “spring ahead” into Daylight Savings Time.
With the swans dunking their heads and long necks into pond water that was frozen only a few days ago, and sunshine that will last well into the evening, can spring be far behind? Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead tomorrow!
Our neighborhood swan was up early this morning, patrolling the pond in response to the gaggle of Canadian geese that landed for a stopover on their flight south for the winter. The geese were barely visible in the blackness, but the swan’s white feathers stood out clearly as it paddled powerfully by with a stern look on its face.
This summer, two swans and more than a dozen ducks call the pond at No. 5 North home. They always approach when walkers tromp along the boardwalk, in hopes that the passersby might toss some bread crumbs into the water.
Yesterday, as Kish, Penny, Kasey, and I strolled past, the swans and the ducks had spotted a family at the other end of the boardwalk and were making a beeline in their direction, with the regal swan in the lead.
Here’s another sure sign that spring is near: the swans are back on the pond next to the green on number 5 North. Yesterday, on a brilliantly sunny day, the magnificent birds were drifting regally on the water, nibbling on the plants at the water’s edge and adding a bit of class to the neighborhood.
On this morning’s walk Penny and I noticed that the swan who cruises regally on the number 5 north pond was right next to the boardwalk. As I stopped to take a picture of this beautiful creature, Penny decided to take a closer look — and then the fun began.
Penny stuck her head under the fence. The swan cocked his head and took a good look, then decided he didn’t much care for Penny. He shot his head forward and hissed loudly. Penny bravely bolted out of there.
Round 1 goes to the swan.
As the weather has turned colder, the New Albany bird population has changed. The robins, blue jays, and cardinals of the summer are long since gone, and flocks of Canadian geese have been moving through, using the pond on the Yantis Loop as one of their stops as they fly south for the winter. They tend to be noisy, messy visitors, honking and crapping as they rest for the night before leaving the next day.
This morning I noticed that the swan couple that has occupied the Yantis Loop pond this year seems to have departed. They had been fixtures on my morning walks as I passed the pond — their bright white forms standing out in sharp contrast against the black pond water, drifting in lazy circles, with their long necks twisted and their heads tucked under their wings as they dozed. This morning they were gone, leaving only the female duck with the apparent broken wing and her faithful mallard companion to occupy the pond as I strolled past.
Winter will soon be here.