Tag Archives: Mute Swan

Favorite Canadian Spring Activities Hamilton

Favorite Canadian Spring Activities Hamilton

Saturday March 19 2011

Mallard duck cootes paradise


There’s nothing quite like springtime in Canada. The long cold winter has broken and the ice begins to melt. Canadians wander out from the winter hiding places to celebrate the warmer weather and to begin planning Canadian spring activities. It’s time to get the bike-out, find your spring clothing and enjoy the scenery as flora and fauna awake from their winter sleep.Winter activities in Canada are soon forgotten as they embark on a new season of fun in the sun. 

Hamilton Harbour


Favourite Canadian Spring Activities

Bird Watching in Canada

Female Mallard duck
Canadian Geese
Mute and trumpeter swans

The mass migrations of various species of birds descend on Canada in the spring. Canada geese begin to ready themselves for their summer offspring and fight for territory during the spring months. All types of waterfowl make their way north to set up summer nesting grounds. A trip to Point Pelee and other bird habitats are favourite spring activities in Canada for bird lovers.

Geese following my movements


following for handouts
Fighting for territory


The Lake Ontario “West End”

BirdLife International partners The Canadian Nature Federation and Bird Studies Canada have identified the shoreline that stretches from Port Credit to Niagara along western Lake Ontario as an Important Bird Area. In the past decade, large numbers of waterfowl have congregated in the area, in late winter and early spring. Huge flocks of diving ducks, numbering in the tens of thousands, including Greater Scaup, White-winged Scoter, Oldsquaw, Common Goldeneye, King Eider, and Surf Scoter.

Gulls fast to react

Hamilton Harbour

Separated from Lake Ontario by a sandbar and the Burlington Canal, the city of Hamilton’s harbour at the extreme west end of Lake Ontario has been designated as an Important Bird Area site for waterbird colonies. On piers and artificial islands at the east end of the harbour, continentally significant numbers of Ring-billed Gulls, Caspian Terns and Common Terns make their nests. Signficant, but declining, numbers of Black-crowned Night Herons are also present.

Territorial mute swans

Bird Watching in Canada

The mass migrations of various species of birds descend on Canada in the spring. Canada geese begin to ready themselves for their summer offspring and fight for territory during the spring months. All types of waterfowl make their way north to set up summer nesting grounds. A trip to Point Pelee and other bird habitats are favourite spring activities in Canada for bird lovers.

Canadian geese


Lake Ontario is part of the over 10,000 miles of coastline in the Great Lakes.  It is the product of glacier history and regional and local scale ecosystem processes that contains a unique collection and distribution of habitats, fauna and flora.

Cootes Paradise is a hypereutrophic marsh located at the western end of Hamilton Harbour in Lake Ontario.

Zugunruhe (TSOOK-UN-TOO-UH) is a German term coined by behavioural scientists to describe restless birds as changes in the day length signal that the time to migrate is near.
Birds become more active in the evenings, and their sleep pattern changes as the day lengths change. And, Wayne Grady tells us : ” In Chinese thought, human beings were descended from birds.”
Just a few minutes south of Hamilton is Lake Erie.  And, the Tom Ridge Environmental Centre in Erie, Pennsylvania’s 2,007 study on ” The Birds of Presque Isle State Park” is interesting.  This park  is on the south shore of Lake Erie, U.S. side and is one of the premiere birding hot-spots in the Easter U..S.  For example in the last 125 years, Presque Isle  has hosted 334 species of birds. That is 85% of all the birds in the state of Pennsylvania.  At this Presque Isle there is a seven-mile sand pit formed by wind and current running from northeast to southwest that provides a natural migration corridor for northbound migrants in the Spring.  Southbound migrants in autumn find Presque Isle the first landfall after crossing Lake Erie. Here threatened birds, the least bittern and black tern breed.  Rarities that migrate to Preque Isle include king eider, harlequin duck, northern gannet, purple sandpiper, jaegers, and black-legged kittiwake, plus, the snowy owl and gyrfalcon may make winter appearances.
Mated mallards
Cootes Paradies is a Bird Area, due to the strategic location at the tip of Lake Ontario and with the Central and Mississipi Flyways.  In  the Spring and Fall Migration flyways include: Least Bittern, Hooded Warbler, Caspian Tern, Black-crowned Night Heron, Osprey, Pileated Woodpecker, Prothonotary Warbler and the Bald Eagle (Northshore of Cootes Paradise).  Plus waterfowl . such as,  Mute Swans, Trumpeter Swans, and the Blue Heron currently are preparing for the Fall (Autumn) Migration from Canada.
Natures beauty
Sources : Outdoors.ca,Canadian outdoor magazine,Wikipedia,Jacqueline
By Doug Worrall

Photgrapher Doug Worrall

Wiping Out a Species Mute Swans

Wiping Out a Species Mute Swans

Friday 25 February 2011

Species at risk

There are a species at risk everywhere in the World . Recently I have been communicating with a reader in the United States that has  many concerns that will affect our swan “Mute Swan”  population in Canada also.

I can understand the frustration when the Government involvement and special interest groups, and people that can sleep at night after slaughtering an innocent animal, anyone that  can influence the disposal of a species.Trumpeter swans are Native to Canada as the Tundra swan.Mute swans were brought into Canada in 1958. Understanding  Mute swans were introduced to the US much before Canada.What happens in the US usually happens in Canada  As site coordinator Karen has been emailing me since this  article Michigan-to-ban-wildlife-rehabbers-helping-mute-swans Thursday February 10 2011, I hope this brings attention to a nonsensical killing by brutal THUGS

Method of cull the Mute Swans:   (1) Shooting, (2) Bagging and either clubbing to death or stepping on their long necks while in bags. (3) removal to another area.
U.S. Laws – difficulty:  There is a different law for each of the 50 states – no blanket law as in Canada.
Canada:  Mute Swans currently are protected, but it is being considered to remove them from protection, because of overpopulation and interference with Trumpeter Swans.

Doug Worrall




Beautiful Mute swans
Caring providers
Non Breeding mute swan

On January 13, 2011, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources presented a proposal for Mute Swan Management to the Natural Resource Commission. Their proposal not just denies the waterfowl rehabilitator to take in any injured mute swans, but it also will force them to render any mute swans they have in their possession. These swans will be killed.

Beautiful Swannee
Swannee’s Mate

Most waterfowl rehabilitators take care of these animals on their own time and money. They choose to take care of them because they feel it’s not the animals fault when they get injured due to careless fishermen that leave their lures, bobbers, hooks , empty worm cans and fishing line behind, or when an animal gets hit by a boat, car, or jet ski. That’s not “survival of the fittest” or “let nature take its course”. It’s called human error, and they should be able to care for these animals.

On February 10, 2011, The NRC voted 3 to 2, that even though the average number of mute swans that the rehabilitators take in in one year is only about 40 swans, they did not feel that the rehabilitators should care for what The DNR calls “a non-native, invasive species” that they are working on removing from all state land and eventually public and private lakes.

Also proposed in their management plan was the reduction of the mute swan population from 15,000 to 2,000 swans. “The Mute Swan Management and Control Program Policy and Procedures contains a goal to reduce the mute swan population to zero on DNRE lands. We will continue management activities to reach that goal.” -Barbara Avers, DNR Waterfowl and Wetlands Person.

During the presentation, they neglected to say how they expect to do this. When asked, the “DNR person” admitted that they would be lethally shooting them through permits on public and private land. This would begin before the end of 2011. According to the August Mute Swan Forum Minutes, the swans will be tossed in landfills. Please e-mail us if you would like a copy of these extremely interesting minutes that lay out how they plan to carry out this inhuman management plan.


COPY and paste this in your browser window  please sign the petition http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-killing-of-mute-swans-in-michigan<<Thanking you in advance

Uncertain time



Doug Worrall Photographer




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Birds Of A Feather, Flock Together Hamilton

Birds Of A Feather, Flock Together Hamilton

Saturday January 22 2011

Mute swan plumage

Long assumed to have evolved from reptilian scales, the first feathers of birds are now thought by some scientists to have been entirely new structures erupting from skin patches called placodes. First simple hollow tubes, hey later evolved into more elaborate structures with interconnected barbs forming flat vanes, enabling flight. Feathers are complex designed structures required for flight, and are today found only on birds. In 2,009, Chinese scientists announced the discovery of a bristly-backed creature, Tianyulong, on the ornithischian branch of the dinosaur family tree that raised the astonishing possibility that the ancestor of all dinosaurs had hairlike feathers and that some species lost them later in evolution. The origin of feathers could be pushed back further still if the “fuzz” found on some pterosaurs is confirmed to be feathers, since these flying reptiles share an even older ancestor with dinosaurs. There is an even more astonishing possibility. The closest living relatives of birds, dinosaurs, and pterosaurs are alligators and crocodilians. Although they do not have feathers today, these scaly beasts, scientists discovered the same gene in alligators is involved in building feathers in birds suggests that perhaps their ancestors did, 250 million years ago, before the lineages diverged. So the question scientists ask is – Not how the birds got their feathers, but how alligators lost theirs. It is believed by most scientists, that the insulating effect was the primary force during the evolution of feathers. Feathers have enabled birds to refine flight to an art form matched by no other organism alive today.

female mallard

Birds are unique creatures having wings, feathers, hollow bones, and other adaptations for an ariel lifestyle. Fight consumes a great deal of energy and consequently these warm blooded animals have high metabolic rates. Many of their bones are fused for strength and stability. The evolution of feathers, with an asymmetrical shape, like those of Archaeopteryx, further enhance the flight capabilities of early birds. Corwin Sullivan and his colleagues at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, China have found in theropods that were closely related to living birds, a particular wristbone was wedge-shaped, allowing them to bend their hands. Anchiornis’s wrist bone was so wedge-shaped that it could fold its arms at its sides, keeping its arm feathers off the ground as it walked. Modern birds use a similar bone in flight, drawing their wings toward their bodies during an upstroke. If these scientists are right, this crucial flight feature evolved long before birds took wing. It is an example of what evolutionary biologists call exaptation: borrowing an old body part for a new job. It now looks like bird flight was made possible by a whole string of such exaptations stretching across millions of years, long before flight itself arose. For example, Luis Chiappe, an expert on early birds at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, California, suggests that flight like occurred as a by-product of arm flapping in ground dwelling dinosaurs, as the predecessors of birds used their feathered arms to increase their running speed or balance themselves as they made fast turns. Over generations, muscles used for such actions evolved to become stronger, bodies smaller and lighter, and feathers longer and more aerodynamic. Eventually the flapping of feathery arms evolved into the repetitive strokes of wings. “Even Archaeopteryx, which is often cast as a poor flier, could have taken off from the ground ,” says Luis Chiappe.


In 2,009 Jakob Vinther and his colleagues had discovered microscopic pigment sacs, called melanosomes, in the feathers of extinct birds. In 2,010 Vinther decoded the full-body coloration of Anchiornis: rusty red crown, dark grey body, and black-and-white striped wings. Scientists at Arizona State University are studying – How the consumption of carotenoids can improve or ‘tune’ birds colour, promote the health of offspring as they develop in the egg, and possibly improve male sperm quality. In today’s birds, feather colour are a result of pigments. Melanins are brown/black pigments. In addition to adding colour to the feather it makes feathers denser and more resilient to wear and breakdown by sunlight. Porphynne is the red and green pigments that are produced by cells in the feather folicle. Carotenoids are synthesized organic pigments produced in plants, and absorbed by the bird’s digestive systems, and then taken up by the cells of the follicle as the feather is developing. Species, such as, the Northern Cardinals, their colourful feathers are a result of a diet rich in carotenoids. Like the scales of reptiles, and those on the feet of birds, feathers are made of keratin, a fibrous protein. In Parrots, when the sheaths or barbs of feathers disintegrate, they form a fine keratin powder, which the bird can spread over its feathers as a water-proofing. Feathers vary considerably in structure and function. Feathers are arranged in major distinct tracts, called pterylae. The featherless areas between the pterylae are called aptena. Contour feathers form most of the surface of the bird, streamlining it for flight and often waterproofing it. They consist of a tapered central shaft, the rachis, with pairing branches (barbs) on each side. Afterfeathers (hypopenge), at the base of the vane in an area called the distal umbilicus. They are barbs without hooks, which help trap air and offer insulation. Down feathers have loose-webbed barbs, all rising from the tip of a very short shaft. Filoplumes are hair-like feathers with a few soft barbs at the top. Bristlelike vaneless feathers occur around the mouth, eyes and nostrils of birds.

molting feathers

When you look up to the sky and spot a bird, next time, you will be able to understand how its feathers have evolved, protect it and make it possible for the bird to fly. That is, down to the microscopic level, you can appreciate the complexity of specialization that makes birds such a unique part of the animal kingdom.

Source: National Geographic

Doug Worrrall Photography