This is where I'll be sharing my experiences and thoughts on topics that matter to me and to those who share my quest to have a healthy population of swans in our island community.
Thank you wholeheartedly for your support and interest,
Three young males had moved into the territory across from CVS/Publix as Susie plus four arrived. The older male dispatched the others and nudged in on single parent Susie. Is this possible? Well it was short-lived as both swans realized something was wrong. Susie went back south and came back north with one less cygnet. The three males had re-congregated but soon after a call came in one was lifeless. I attended to Bubba's burial while the other two males went east. The water had a few dead fish, so the Club became involved in cleanup, hopefully not too late.
Again Susie and the three went a mile south, and later returned with two. I managed to capture the one she left behind and bicycled it back to her. It would only last one day.
Will Susie lose interest with only two cygnets and abandon them? It's the 10th of June and they are six weeks old, smaller than what has been normal. Feeding them today, it's too early to predict, but their chances go to 50/50 in two weeks.
Susie had been on the nest with seven eggs as hatching time neared. Sully had performed his nest-sharing role very well. But on April 28, I found him in an area of water that had claimed the breeding male Stan. Like Stan, Sully was floating, almost limp. I grabbed him from the water, carried him to my garage, and loaded him into the car for the 40 minute trip to the vet on Laurel Road. When the ER-like efforts produced no lasting effects, it was time to let Sully go...just like Stan.
Cygnets about to hatch, no husband in site, Susie was going to be a single parent....and that does not bode well for the babies. Knowing the basic contributions of the male, I fumbled my way through what I could do and what Susie would allow. The four cygnets were in the water on May 1 and headed north two days later after I was able to clean the nest.
"There's a swan nearby and I think it's hurt". The calls come at least once a month, and most of them turn out OK. But this latest one had me concerned, and righfully so. Beverly was barely alive, laying in the area of a tee. At 19 years of age, this was not surprising. But Beverly, named after Beverly Stone, was the last progeny of George and Gracie. She had the distinctive angel wing, the only swan to sport one since I adopted a new feeding scheme. She received a burial not far from where she was hatched.
Obvious question that was asked: was she hit by a ball? When I advised two staff members at the Tennis Gardens, they both had been concerned about her health. She was lethargic, not moving much two days prior. Settled. And BTW, It's nice to know that ten years after the death of Gracie, the health and well-being of the swans is still so widely shared.
Eric came to LBK to learn how to care for his swan pair at Camelot Lakes. When I saw him take a hard fall capturing an adult swan, and not letting go though pretty well bruised, I knew he would be good guy for the birds. And that was proved numerous times. I granted him a breeding pair for Camelot Lakes where he became a hero in ths community. His help with the LBK swans was most needed and appreciated. Needless to say, I was shaken with him announcing his departure from the area, turning a new page in his life.
Bon Voyage good buddy and I'll leave the door open for you should things change.
A phone call out of the blue from Sarasota Jungle Gardens on problems with their swans started it all. One swan had died and the other needed a companion. With the botched placement at Sunnyside Village, could this be a blessing? I set strict conditions, giving them two young males with the undertanding that the existing female would exit before the males became of age. Agreed upon, the males endured a 30 day quarantine. Placed among flamingos and the female swan, they wanted peace and quiet. The Gardens prohibited feeding by the visitors and all three swans became more distant; photo ops replaced hand feeding and their lives are really good. Big success!
I've always said that swan care comes with surprises, but it's all teachable moments. With the people of Sunnyside Lakes so motivated, euphoria fogged over my common sense. The swans will escape the environs regardless of the plusses humans perceive if even one potentially fatal factor is present. While this failed placement was sufficient disappointment, it was difficult to accept that the community did not want to move forward with adjustments to the habitat that would have allowed the swans to remain there. Score one for the common sense of swans, score zero for me for not covering all the elements of a successful placement.
The male pair being harbored at Camelot Lakes were awaiting placement elsewhere, and Eric and I did our best to explore all options. Again, an out-of-the-blue phone call from a Mennonite pastor provided hope. The call led to a meeting with the administrator and staff of Sunnyside Village who had thoughts of populating their lake for the past two years.
Yada-yada-yada, everything lined up and following a presentation to over one hundred residents, the swan pair was released into the lake. They quickly took a hard-right turn, parading past the residents who oooh-ed and ahhh-ed.
But nirvana lasted only a few days as river otters invaded the lake and the swan pair decided this was not the place for them. They escaped into neighboring lakes and, after over four hours of chasing and evading, were captured by Eric and I and taken back to Camelot Lakes.
A week later, we met again. I was prepared to let this be the last word, walking away from what seemed to be an ideal environment. I was surprised to hear that Sunnyside was committed to do whatever was necessary to return the swan pair to a safe environment there. What caused this commitment? Simply, the Sunnyside residents were so taken by the presence of swans that they literally stormed the office with demands to get the swans back.
The "power" of two swans to bring about such emotions is humbling and woudl be hard to ever forget.
Stay tuned for more on this.
First, names are important and, second, when I put up a slide of the names of LBK swans, it mesmerizes the audience. So here is a complete history of our dear friends.
George (m) and Gracie (d)
Alan (d) and Beverly
Vicki (m) and Henry (m)
Stan (d) and Wendy
Susie and Sully
Clare and Greta
Nik and Bello
Meg and Lilly
Lacy and Sylvia
Tut and Chesty
Phil and Bubba
(d) deceased (m) moved from LBK
Of the five cygnets from 2015, three were placed on LBK. The two males from Susie and Sully were designated as "excess" since the "territories" were full and no other male swans had met their demise. So, once captured, the two males were transported to Camelot Lakes until a suitable home could be secured.
I received a phone call from a local woman who was moving to a farm in Tennessee who had seen the swans from a window overlooking the golf course while caring for an LBK hospice patient. Perfect! Plenty of space, a farmer, an animal lover, a seeker of a perfect retirement lifestyle.
To transport animals out of Florida requires a permit showing the animal to be disease-free and with a permanent identifier. The swans were already microchipped and, after some lab work and a health certificate, were all set for the trip. But then things seemed to fall apart for this good soul, and it was best to rescind the offer.
Better safe then sorry, and the right decision was made on behalf of the swans.