Swanning Around with a Cygnet
Coy Parenting Tactics
A young swan or cygnet is cuteness factored by three, or maybe thirty three. Baby animals have a special place in our heart. Young swans swaddled in fluff and curiosity giving them an extra high heart rating. They wreak of softness and innocence. Exposure and vulnerability. We just want to swoop them up and cuddle. But that is best left to swan parents.
Adults mate for life and have years together to finesse parenting. Harmonious in their relationship, together they safeguard their offspring. After up to 150 days the youngster can take flight. If you are on a large waterway when a cygnet is present the parents will remain between humans and the babe. This is done with the utmost of coyness. They swoon into position so gracefully, you may not even realize an invisible, protective shield has been raised. One that they will fiercely defend, if under pressure. But who can resist mother nature at it’s finest? You will be so emotional over the entire scene of youth, guardianship, attachment and perennial bonding you will not notice the defensive positioning. A cygnet being nurtured along on the waterways of life.
For more on swans and their habitat, see also:
Backyard Birding Is For Everyone
I can still hear the screaming sirens of the merlins, the clucking of the cormorants and the take-off squawk of the great blue herons. That was backyard birding this summer and it was always entertaining. Often the entertainment was from a particular perch that was favoured by most flying visitors from songbirds to birds of prey.
Backyard birds as entertainment? They can actually compete with any social media feed, preoccupying you mindlessly, if you just take the time to tune them in. Behind a pair of binoculars you will become immersed in colour, song and behaviour, forgetting that to-do list made moments before. All you have to do is hold your position and take it all in. They will fly into your live feed without prediction or warning sometimes. A drop-in visit last Monday will not guarantee the same bird this week but another may be in the same place. Some are more predictable than others but you can always reap rewards with the usual suspects. They will flit and flutter, scratch and twitch, those fickle feathered friends.
Birds are always on the lookout for their many enemies, eagle eyed or four footed, even the two footed ones. As long as they feel safe from their many predators they may fan their feathers and show off their plumage or spurt out a territorial or mating song. So, if you have a happy place where birds feel safe, and it is in the open where you can keep your eye out for them you will have many hours of happy viewing from your own backyard perch. This year is Year of the Bird.
You can start your 2018 bird quest in your backyard. For more on birds and birding, see also:
Alberta, Land of the Wild Horse
There is something about a wild horse that speaks to a hidden part of us. The suppressed part that responds to an unfettered life, dominated by none and without rules. The part that does not want to live by schedules and appointments and dislikes smog and pollution almost as much. After all, don’t we all want more free will from the shackles imposed by ourselves and others? Free in the open fields and aromatic woods of our dreams. Running with mane tangled from the elements after days spent in the mountain air of an untamed land. Just like in the movies, a life of the strong and free.
But strength and romanticism do not always keep company in the same body. The same can be said for nostalgia and freedom. The wild horses that roam the foothills of Alberta in the Canadian Rocky Mountains are not truly wild. Although they are descendants of domesticated Spanish horses released during colonization they have roamed free for many years. They have been here long enough to resist being rounded up back into captivity. As far as day to day living is concerned these horses lead a life of chaos. The wild horse has to survive a hostile environment without any hope of human help for basic needs provided to its domestic relatives. A constant search for the necessities of life, food and shelter, leaves little time or energy for loafing around enjoying the natural environs of the Alberta foothills. In the depths of winter after fresh snowfall there is no overwintered dry hay to be found.
People have been nurturing the horse human partnership since wolves started hanging around the campfire. We domesticated them and now we romanticize their wildness. Tamed their instincts and admire the release of them. The next time you see a wild horse or any wild creature, admire them for their struggle as much as for the freedom they instill. The wild deserve it.
For more on wild and free, see also:
Life In The Woods With Deer and Moose
Deer and moose. You know they are there. You just do not always see them. And sometimes you don’t even hear them although the latter is more often the case. Heard but not seen. Deer and moose in the North American hinterland.
Twigs breaking, leaves crackling, ever so quietly. No alarms for these critters. Their instinct has been honed since the arrival of white man with metal sticks of fire. They are aware of the deadly consequences when fall hunting season descends. Meanwhile, it is spring, the cycle of life is revolving, and the next generation is showing up behind bushes, under deadfall. In the crevices and hideaways that only the woods knows. Mamas are on high alert for mammalian predators of the furry variety.
“Heads down kids. Do not lift them until I get back”, urges the doe as she nuzzles her newborn. It arrived at dawn, a sharp barking pierces the first light of the morning as a red fox made the birth announcement. 4 AM strikes with Savannah Sparrows followed by dependable American Robins joining in the exaltation. The doe will spend most of the daylight hours foraging back to recovery and the challenge of keeping her fawn alive the first few days of its life. Twin moose do not require such rigorous instruction as their parent will not be abandoning them. They follow her instinctively. A cow moose with babes in tow can take care of just about anything that comes their way this time of year.
A new day is breaking, instincts kick in, and all is well with the world.
For more on deer and moose and other life in the woods, see also: