Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Amazing

This is a swan entering the water in my back yard. There are three swans that live in the lake behind our house, and we see them often, but they've never come into the yard that I've seen before. This day I looked out, and two of them were just getting out of the water. It was really an amazing thing to watch. I walked slowly and quietly within about 4 feet of them. They just sat there looking at me expectantly, like "okay, what are you gonna feed us?" We don't feed any of the ducks in this lake, partly because it's against homeowner's association rules, but partly because it's much more interesting to see them acting as they would naturally.

So once they figured out I wasn't going to feed them, they walked right past me towards the house. Now Jackie, my cockatiel, was in the house chirping her head off at a deafening level, so I don't know if they were somehow responding to that. One of the swans stood around checking out the patio table, looking like he was choosing which chair he would sit on. The other one walked right over to our living room window and looked in, like it was something he was used to doing all the time.

Next they walked over to our banana tree, and each one of them took one single bite of a leaf. At this point, Swan No. 1 decided it was time to get back to the lake, so he waddled slowly down the yard, and then slipped so very gracefully into the water.

Swan No. 2 hadn't realized that he'd been left alone, so he went a little more quickly to the edge of the lake (although quickly in a swan just isn't very quick). Swan No. 2 then did this full wingspan thing in the above picture, flapped his wings a few times, then he also slipped gracefully into the lake and went swimming away. They look so amazing with their wings open like that, but what is even more amazing is to see them fly. They look kind of funny - like their wings are way back like a fighter jet or something because their necks are so long.

Rachel and I have seen 3 sets of bird families with babies - a pair of swans with 4 babies, although we couldn't get too close as they were out in the middle of the lake (not ours, but another lake nearby). Then on a walk one night, we saw a mom and dad duck and 5 babies. These were very interesting-looking ducks - solid black, very small duck, with just a bit of red on their heads, although the babies appeared solid black. The other set was a mom and dad sandhill crane (you know those huge birds that are almost as tall as people?) who apparently had 2 babies. They were not in a lake, they were in some quasi-woods near our house. The babies did not appear to be very old, but they were HUGE, like the size of a small dog. I can't imagine how big those eggs were!

So far no babies on our lake. I think that predators got to the eggs - there was one in our yard a few weeks ago, empty with just a small hole punched in it, not like a baby hatching out. But that's okay, it's fascinating
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Orlando, Florida, United States
"If you asked me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you...I came to live out loud. [Emile Zola.]
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