In late June, two trumpeter swan cygnets were born at Bluffers Park. I drove to the park with friends Anne and Jill and smiled with satisfaction as they showed me the female, Sweetie, sitting on the nest platform with the cygnets, Macadamia and Hazel, cuddled up beside her. Three more eggs were being incubated, but unfortunately they did not hatch.
Hamlet, the male, was busy feeding on the shore. Camera in hand, I sat on the grass and watched as the cygnets started to move around the nest. At this point, they were only one day old. One cygnet tumbled out of the nest and landed on her back, her itty bitty pink legs fluttering in the air. It took her a good 20 seconds to turn over and she tried to walk back up, but down she fell again. So cute! The male sauntered back to the nest and both cygnets jumped (well, toppled) head-first into the water.
A bit of history
The first trumpeter swan since their extinction in Ontario through hunting earlier this century arrived at Bluffers Park in May, 2000. The first successful nest saw four cygnets hatch in 2004. Since then, more than 44 cygnets have been born.
Volunteer Jill Ramsey explained that fishing line, lead sinkers and hooks are a huge hazard for the swans. Last year, two of the seven cygnets were trapped underwater in fishing line and hooks. Luckily they were rescued and resuscitated by members of the Scarborough Bluffs Sailing Club just in time. Another cygnet was taken into Toronto Wildlife Centre with a hook through her beak. Charlie, the previous breeding male, was euthanized because of irreparable nerve damage caused by fish hooks. Many swans die from lead sinkers; if ingested, a single lead sinker can kill even adult swans as they pick them up, mistaking them for the small stones they use to grind their food. This shouldn’t be a problem anymore as there are safe alternates to lead sinkers available, and fishermen are strongly encouraged to use them.
A male swan is called a cob, the female a pen and the babies are cygnets. Where can you find trumpeter swans? At time of printing, there are five cygnets at Tommy Thompson Park and two cygnets at Bluffers Park. For more information on Trumpeter Swans see trumpeterswansociety.org.If you see a swan or any other animal trapped in fishing line, please don’t just walk away – call Toronto Wildlife Centre at 416-631-0662, follow the voice prompts and leave a detailed message. A wildlife specialist will return your call as quickly as possible.
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