The persistent guest

The Whooper Swan is still hanging around. I sneaked out there this morning and filmed her (?) from afar looking in the windows of my husband’s shop.

Nobody in there, but I think she can see her reflection. Is she trying to make friends? Or was she just eating bugs?

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

Cygnus cygnus seems to like it here

sw1

Peekaboo, swan.

sw2

More Whooper Swan photos from yesterday. My long-necked white-featheredĀ friend is still out there this morning. “What if it stays?” we are beginning to ask ourselves.

sw3

I will spend too much time watching it, for one thing.

sw4

And taking pictures. How many pictures of one Whooper Swan in a New Hampshire pond does the world need?

sw5

Aw, pretty.

sw6

Is it lonely for the company of other swans? Might it fly off and find one or several swan friends?

sw8

Our backyard is turning into a fairy tale.

There’s a swan in our pond

Whooper Swan in pond

Swan visitor in our pond yesterday afternoon and evening. And it’s still there this morning.

I knew it wasn’t a Mute Swan like I see at Eel Pond in Rye. I Googled around and it looked like a Whooper Swan, but they are a Eurasian species. So I posted some photos to Flickr and then posted an I.D. question (with a link to the photos) to the NH Birds Google group.

Whooper Swan bill

The emailed consensus of local birders: a Whooper Swan for sure.

The black and yellow bill, with more yellow than black, is diagnostic.

A birder wrote: “How cool is that swan! I think you’ve got a whooper swan. It’s got the wedge-shaped head and the wedge-shaped yellow patch of a whooper. Here’s a link that shows the difference between Bewick’s and whoopers. http://www.birdwatch.co.uk/categories/articleitem.asp?item=470
Wonderful to have it appear in your pond.”

Whooper Swan

AnotherĀ birder wrote: “Whooper swans are a European species, so I’m guessing this one is an escaped captive bird – perhaps from York Zoo in Maine, perhaps from one of the zoos down around Boston. Very, very unlikely that it’s a wild bird, as their normal range doesn’t come west of Iceland. Not impossible, though – where wandering birds are concerned, there’s very little I’d call ‘impossible.’ šŸ™‚ ”

Whooper Swan

Other birders said this bird has been spotted in our town and adjacent towns recently.

What does the future hold for this solo swan, I wonder.

Whooper Swan

Headshot.

Whooper Swan

Wikipedia: The whooper swan (pronounced hooper), Cygnus cygnus, is a large Northern Hemisphere swan. It is the Eurasian counterpart of the North American trumpeter swan. Francis Willughby and John Ray’s Ornithology of 1676 referred to the this swan as “the Elk, Hooper, or wild Swan”.

Whooper Swan

Swan-watching.

Apparently you can order a pair of (pinioned) Whooper Swans from Meyer Hatchery in Ohio for $2,100 plus $355 shipping: LINK.

Whooper Swan

A strange and special bird visitor.