7 March 2014. Burlington, Ontario. I witnessed a couple of unrelated mini-dramas unfold today: one a romance; the other a brush with danger, both involving Trumpeter Swans. Today for the first time in two and a half months the sun came delivering real warmth. It will take several days of above zero to push back the ice, so when I visited one of our harbourside waterfowl gathering places it was no surprise to see Trumpeter Swans and Canada Geese standing around on the ice. They were close to a small beach, watching a photographer who in turn was watching them; for all of the geese and swans’ anticipation there didn’t seem to be a promise of food involved.
The photographer was watching several pairs of swans performing what I can only assume was a courtship dance. Couples facing each other with wings half open and heads held high, they were bobbing up and down, but at the same time watching the other pairs to see how they were getting on. It gave me a feeling of déjà vu, they looked like teenagers anxious to impress, but wondering if the others were doing it any better. They impressed me though, enough to be Birds of the Day. In three or four weeks, once the ice has given way to open waters, these courting couples as bonded pairs will head for more northerly lakes and rivers to breed.
This crowd of perhaps two hundred geese and swans, apparently hopeful that food was yet in the offing, abruptly turned away from the photographer and started a quick march away from the shore. A few moments later, three coyotes ran out onto the ice. For a moment I thought they were about to herd and harvest dinner, and so did the birds, but instead they kept on running and soon disappeared from view. I have no idea what the purpose of their dash was but it’s illustrative of how urbanized coyotes have become.