Daily Archives: August 9, 2015

Swan persists

8:30 a.m.

The whooper swan is still in and around our backyard pond. It has been here since July 26.

I think it is probably molting and will stay as long as it takes to grow new flight feathers.

Some birds, such as ducks, swans, grebes, pelicans, and auks, are “synchronous molters — they change their feathers all at once in a period as short as two weeks, but sometimes stretching over a month. During this period, they cannot fly, and males, in particular, often complete the process on secluded lakes in order to minimize their vulnerability to predators.

Why should synchronous molters have evolved this seemingly risky process instead of undergoing a gradual molt like most birds? These birds tend to be heavy relative to their wing surfaces — they have high “wing loadings.” The loss of only a few flight feathers would seriously compromise their flying ability, and so evolution has favored being grounded for a “quick overhaul” rather than a longer period of difficult flying.

whooper swan

whooper swan nh

Ospreys in New Jersey

osprey atlantic city

Osprey at the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, with Atlantic City beyond. Photo taken August 1st.

I was on vacation with extended family and now I’m home.

osprey platform

I don’t remember ospreys at the shore in South Jersey when I was a kid. This photo makes me happy.

osprey

According to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of NJ, there were 50 nests in New Jersey in 1974 and now there are 1,000. Wow!