Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Return of the Trumpeters: Part 2

In the last post I mentioned that an adult swan was inspected because it had red on its head and neck. The volunteers wanted to see if it was injured but it appeared that it had been the target of a paintball gun. These birds are very vulnerable because they are accustomed to humans and it was upsetting to think that people could be so uncaring. If people knew the story of these swans, I believe they would be less likely to harass them.

My cousin Sam loves and respects nature and I wanted him to see the birds at this park. We went down on a cold and cloudy Saturday morning and were very fortunate to arrive as the volunteers were about to hand out the daily ration of dried corn. They welcomed Sam and asked him to help feed the Trumpeter Swans.

Sam feeds a Trumpeter swan.
Two Mute swans are standing the the background

The woman suggested he approach swan E08 as it was gentle. The swans were hesitant to come to someone new at first but soon took the corn from his outstretched hand. The Mute swans, geese and ducks were anxious for some attention as well but had to wait. Our Sam reminded me so much of Sam Beaver in E.B. White's book "The Trumpet of the Swan".

Male Trumpeter Swan, female on his left

The gentleman who was working with the swans took Sam aside and told him a great deal about the birds. We learned that male birds are banded on the right leg ("males are always right", he said!) and females are banded on the left leg ("lady left"). Four of the five cygnets that arrived from Kirkland Lake this week have been banded and tagged and four of the five are females.

There were other new arrivals in the bay. We saw American Coots, two Red-breasted Mergansers, Bufflehead and Goldeneye ducks, Black ducks and more. Sam has a great eye for birds. He called me over to see a Great Black-backed gull sitting on a shoal. These birds are not common on the Great Lakes.

My first Great Black-backed Gull

Our schools are doing a much better job at teaching children about environmental issues. But if their families are not interested in the world around them, it becomes less likely that the younger generation will care either. I appreciated the knowledge and enthusiasm these volunteers shared as they involved Sam in their project.

So find a child or two and take them on a field trip even if it is your backyard.


  1. What a great experience for you and Sam.I do believe that we have a responsibility to pass along to the next generation the love for nature.

  2. Your photos are suberb. And so many species of birds! I haven't seen swans close up so this is a treat.
    Yes, I am glad they are teaching children nowadays about the environment. I know several students who went on to obtain a bachelors in environmental studies.
    There should be more volunteers like the one who took Sam under his wing (that wasn't intended to be funny). What an enjoyable time for you both.

  3. You're right, it is the ultimate classroom.

  4. I worry when these birds are too used to humans that it might make them more vulnerable to being hurt. But it is lovely that volunteers are trying to help...I did see your response to my comment on the post below. Thank you...Michelle..

  5. Ruth- It was fun sharing the day with Sam.

    Wendy- Thanks. I see children who are really keen on environmental issues and that is great. The volunteers were really special.

    Robert- Outdoor classrooms are the best!

    Michelle- You are right, the birds are more vulnerable. But they were wiped out here by human activity in the past and now they need human help to get re-established. We create problems that have no ideal solutions.

  6. I love that you and Sam get to go on outings together. He's so cute feeding the swan. :c)

  7. Amen! I try and get my nephew out and about every time I can. We often go for walks and it always starts with.. I'm not walking there. I hate walking. I'm not walking. To which I reply, oh yes you will. He pouts for the first 5minutes and then enjoys it.

  8. PS - thanks for visiting my blog!

  9. I love reading about your adventures with Sam. I must say, the swans are lovely but I'm not at all certain I would want to stand in the midst of them like that.

  10. thanks for taking me :-)

  11. Lovely post and I could not agree more.....I posted my young granddaughter in the garden today.....I try to teach both of my grandchildren about nature and respecting it......

    Swans are beautiful creatures......I often visit them at a local park.......

  12. How fun for Sam to feed the swans and how nice for you to be able to get such close-up pictures too. They're beautiful birds.

  13. Ruth,

    Wow! You sure did get some beautiful photos. I'm hoping hubby and I can get to Burlington this weekend. I would love to see the swans.

    Take care and enjoy the weekend, though it's to be chilly.



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