Sunday, March 04, 2007

What Are Wild Trumpeter Swans Doing This Far South?

We’ve seen some weird weather patterns in Texas and the gulf coast these past few years. In 2005 we had an unprecedented number of named storms extending into 2006. We had an unprecedented number of hurricanes and tropical storms making landfall. An incredible drought in North Texas causing wild and devastating prairie fires.

All of these things, people say, are the immediate effects of global warming.

Why, then, has a small flock of swans made a manmade lake in New Territory, a community in the suburbs southwest of Houston, their home?

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the photos I shot of these 6 Trumpeter Swans today with my friend Ann.

Note the black marking between the bill and up to the eye. It exactly matches the markings found on a Trumpeter Swan

The photo I took that is posted below takes in the whole flock. See? Six of them!

Ann didn’t know what type they are, but I got online and saw the key markings of the three North American Swans, Trumpeter, Mute and Tundra and have come to the conclusion that the swans are Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator). Check out the comparison chart here.

Now here’s the kicker. Trumpeter swans don’t range this far south. At right is the map of their known ranges. At most trumpeter swans get as far south as northern Oklahoma in winter. Here it is nearly spring and we have 6 trumpeter swans thumbing their, well . . . thumbing their bills at the bird books.

I think I made the point in another posting about global warming that climatic change was the norm on our Earth. I think the point here is that climatic change is chaotic and unpredictable. If global warming is a reality, and I think it is, predicting what happens in our time-frame in light of global warming is anything but easy.

On another note, what do you think is the New Territory Homeowner’s Association’s take on their new residents? Ann tells me that they see the swans as dirty big birds that are going to load the lake and shores with feces. They are discouraging residents from feeding the birds – something that we witnessed wasn’t happening twice within an hour.

And yes, New Territory, most of which is in Fort Bend County Precinct 4026, voted 68% Republican in statewide races compared to 32% Democratic in the '06 general election.

Republicans, apparently, don't like swans.


Susan said...

"Republicans, apparently, don't like swans."

Hummm ... but they're so white.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as a New Territory resident, we loved the swans for the short visit that they gave us. My children and I were one of the feeding families that you spoke of. I think it is a shame that you only let your friend "Ann" speak about how we residents felt about the swans. I can honestly say that we loved the swans A LOT MORE than "Ann" loves the people in New Territory. I hope in the next article that you write that includes our neighborhood, you take the time to get voices from both sides of the fence. Also, though I am neither Rebulican or Democrat (Yes I do vote the issues) I believe that our community is mostly Republican and they loved the swans just as much as the Democrats in the community.

Hal said...

I think Ann was speaking of the homeowner's association when she was telling me about feeding of the swans being discouraged. I saw many different families feeding them. I also saw a uniformed officer approach one family and he told them to cease and desist all swan feeding activities.

I am hoping that they flew off to cooler climes and not that someone had them whacked.

Anonymous said...

According to my reading of Wikipedia swan info, their orange bills identify them as Mute Swans, which are plentiful, often domesticated, non-native and sometimes condidered a nuisance. Trumpeter Swans have black bills, are natives, and apparently are more appreciated.
By the way, yesterday three swans reappeared on the New Territory lake. I'm guessing that they flew down from the Dallas area to avoid the storm.

Anonymous said...

I live in Orchard Lakes in Fort Bend County, Sugar land Texas. I have lots of photos of a pair of Trumpeter swans that landed here in our subdivision about years ago. I feed them on a regular basis. Prince Edward and Princes Carolyne had babies last year. The babies are now in the subdivision across from Austin High School and fly back and forth between Orchard lakes. Orchard Lakes loves our swans!!! We also love our ducks!! They are true works of art and true blessings!!

Thanks for your website!!

The Duck Lady