The Mother of All Swans

harvey-and-sheila-2

Harvey and Sheila on patrol.

We love our “down-sized” new home, our walking friendly neighborhood, and the serene pond next door. That is, we love it all except for the Canada Geese that come with it. Waddling, honking, and pooping, these big birds are a nuisance and a mess. According to Wikipedia, there are 4 to 5 million of these dung dumpers in the United States. Since we moved in, approximately three million of them have dive bombed within a 200 yard radius of our home. I can show you the droppings to prove it. Let President Trump build his wall to keep out the immigrants that he is afraid of, I want some defense against these foreigners.

In fact, we do have our secret weapon–swans!

Last year, as the house was being built, we noticed two lovely white swans had appeared on our pond, with two more on the adjacent inlet across the street. We admired these graceful creatures, Barb naming our pair Harvey and Sheila. Our many, many trips to the construction site were never complete without a few minutes watching the couple, who seemed to be as content on rainy days as they were on the sunny ones. Eight cygnets hatched, and the little armada would swim in single file across the pond, interweaving with the many ducks also floating by. By the end of the summer, only a few of the cygnets remained, and in the fall, Harvey, Sheila, and John and Yoko across the way, disappeared. This spring, four swans were back.

Now that we are living in the house, we are able to unlock the secret of our waterfowl. The ducks and geese arrive under their own wing power, but the swans are imported by our subdivision from  a Wisconsin company, Knox Swan and Dog. I spoke with Bob Knox, the owner of the company for the last 23 years, and learned that his company winters 300 swans on a farm in Wisconsin, and delivers breeding pairs to various locations every spring. Each pond or lake gets the same couple each year. We got back our Harvey and Sheila!

The subdivision imports the swans with two goals in mind. First, their beauty adds to the aesthetics of the neighborhood. Second, their other useful trait is an intolerance for the Canada Geese–especially geese that might disturb their tranquil summer home on our pond. Spending a few days at home last week I had the opportunity to watch the swans on the attack. Gliding across the water, they set their sights on any goose that lands on the pond. As quick as a PT boat, and with barely a ripple of swan feathers, there is a sudden acceleration, the gap between the goose and the swan closes, until the quaking, quacking, goose flaps its enormous wings and flies off, safely out of reach of the swan’s beak. Score one for the good guys. Harvey, Sheila, John, and Yoko  haven’t totally eliminated the neighborhood intruders, but the size of the fouling fowl flock has definitely dropped since our white knights returned two weeks ago.

We are ready to  spend our summer in the screened porch watching our flock. We can look forward to a new brood of cygnets, though I learned from Mr. Knox that the tiny swans are easy prey for snapping turtles in the pond, explaining why the number of babies dwindled as the summer wore on last year.

I guess its all just a part of the circle of life, suburban style.

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