My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Mute Swans vs. Canada Geese

Hello every one, several posts ago I mentioned that a friend of mine was going to be a special guest blogger here, and she has finished her first ever blog post, as you can see. Her name is Jan, and she has been following a family of mute swans this past summer. Of course the peepers (cygnets) from last summer have grown up and moved on, but the adult pair remain, for reasons Jan will explain in this post.

First and foremost, I want to thank Jerry for giving me the opportunity to do a couple of practice blog posts on his page. This is all very new to me, and I appreciate his help!

A little background information: There is a lake here in Indianapolis that is home to a pair of Mute Swans, along with a wide variety of other water fowl, hawks, songbirds, etc. I’ve spent a lot of time there over the past year, taking photos of the things I see happening. It’s been a tremendous learning experience! I’ve learned a lot about photography, and have seen a lot of wildlife I’d never seen before.  But the swans are the main reason I keep going back.  They’re amazing to watch, beautiful to photograph, and I’ve worked hard to gain their trust.

For several months, I refused to feed the swans. Better that they eat what’s natural for them, plus the owners of the lake supplemented their diet with cracked corn and whole oats.  I wanted to watch them without bribing them to come closer.  If they came close, it was on their terms.  After all, I’m the visitor to their home.  As it got colder, I noticed that their food bin was empty for several days. Since there was little aquatic plant life remaining in the cold lake, they were definitely hungry. I broke down and bought some cracked corn. They were already used to seeing me, and would pretty much walk right up to me, so giving them food at this point was simply to help keep them warm.  (I should probably mention that these swans are owned by the people who own the lake. The male (cob) was purchased and has one wing pinioned, so he can’t leave. The female (pen) was captured wild, and also purchased, but is not pinioned. They’re now a bonded pair, so she won’t leave.)

At this point in time, the swans are working on their nest and have already exhibited mating behavior. They’re also working hard to protect their nesting area from those pesky Canada Geese. They accept all of the ducks, the pair of American Coots, the Wood Ducks (which should be returning soon), even the herons who frequent the lake. They will even allow the geese to nest anywhere on the lake except that area of the lake near their own nest.

The photos here were taken this past Wednesday. I’d gone to the lake because it had just snowed, and I was hoping to get some good winter photos. I did get a few “snow on the trees” shots, but mostly I was very entertained by the goose chasing escapades. After watching several of these chase scenes over the past year, I’ve come to the conclusion that the geese consider it a game of sorts. The geese will continually come back to the area, knowing full well that they’re going to be chased. I’ve even seen geese sneak up behind other geese and, well, goose them, making them jump forward into the water thus attracting the swans. I’ve also never seen the swans actually catch a goose. Apparently the point of the game is to establish ownership of an area, not to cause injury (although a few feathers have been lost).

On to the photos.  I hope you enjoy them!

Cob heading out to chase another goose

Cob heading out to chase another goose

Cob standing guard

Cob standing guard

Swan ambush

Swan ambush

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Taking a moment to visit with the Mrs.

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Wings-up-goose-chasing mode

Cob chases while the pen block them

Cob chases while the pen block them

The chase is on!

The chase is on!

Easier to go under than around

Easier to go under than around

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Easier to go under than around

Easier to go under than around

Easier to go under than around

Easier to go under than around

Easier to go under than around

Must be break time

Must be break time

It’s hard to relax when you’re in wings-up-goose-chasing mode

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Herding geese

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“I see you back there!”

Launching out of the water to teach an unruly goose a lesson

Launching out of the water to teach an unruly goose a lesson

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You’d BETTER run!

Snow shot (and a goose)

Snow shot (and a goose)

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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7 responses

  1. That fifth shot is absolutely stunning!

    March 10, 2013 at 5:27 am

    • Thanks very much!

      March 10, 2013 at 8:27 pm

  2. I agree with Gunta about the 5th shot. Welcome to the blog world Jan, and thank you for an informative post. I was beginning to think that geese were the bullies of the waterfowl world, but now I’m wondering if maybe they’re just clowns.

    March 10, 2013 at 8:31 am

    • Thanks! The geese at this lake are mostly clowns. Pushy, obnoxious clowns. Considering that they’ll keep coming back, knowing they’re going to get chased… The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, so maybe they’re just nuts! 😉

      March 10, 2013 at 8:35 pm

  3. A fine start to your blogging career.

    March 10, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    • Thank you!

      March 10, 2013 at 8:37 pm

  4. Awesome first post, Jan! Lovely photos and great action capture, had me giggle a few times! 🙂

    March 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm