The Tale of the Cygnets and other Hatchlings

There’s a new arrival around the corner that I’m quite excited about. Behind the block of flats I live in, there’s a nice little lake surrounded by trees. Mostly it’s just mallards, Canada geese and a few coots that live there, but recently a pair of swans moved in. I was delighted to find the female swan sitting on a nest a few weeks ago! I’ve been popping down there every few days now to check on the progress, and see if the cygnets have hatched. When I spotted her this evening, she was fidgeting more than normal, and kept looking at what was under her and fixing up the nest. So perhaps the eggs have started to hatch? I’ll keep you posted! Here are some photos.

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The male is showboating all over the place, and seems especially aggressive towards the geese on the lake (there are both Canada geese and greylag geese). Maybe because they’re kinda big, whereas a duck isn’t much of a threat.

Anyway, I think I’m getting so excited about this because it reminds me of my principal from elementary school. He lived on a farm and in the springtime, he’d bring chicken and duck eggs to the school in these fish tanks that had been turned into incubators. I remember him getting a projector out and holding the egg to the light and showing us the embryos inside. I was so fascinated by that, seeing that wobbling little… blob, and wondering how that was going to turn into a bird. And then he told us that we were all embryos once, but not in eggs of course. We’d learn about how a baby bird hatches, that it has an egg tooth to break its way through the shell. And when the eggs started hatching, the incubators would get taken around different classrooms so we could all watch the birds breaking free. We got to see one of the most amazing things about life, happening right in front of us. And, oh they were cute! I remember seeing one of the ducklings eating what looked like its poop, and, since we were 6-year-old kids, we asked our teacher why the duckling was eating it. She said it wasn’t poop, it was just stuff that came out of the egg, and I believed her. But it was poop.

Mr LaVeque retired when I was in Grade 2 (my childhood was spent in Canada), so I only got about 4 years of the chicks and ducklings delivered to my classroom. Maybe it’s because those memories of the anticipation of the baby birds are so precious to me that I’m so excited for these baby swans. It’s that extreme, raw excitement you can only get as a kid, and maybe that’s what I’m feeling again.

Or, you know, it’s just 10:30pm and I’ve been working too much and I’m just rambling like a loon (which, incidentally, is another bird from Canada I have fond memories of). I’d best quit before I start getting too introspective. But I promise I’ll have some photos of the cygnets the moment they hatch!


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