Friday, November 14, 2014

Tundra Swan Song

Friday, November 14, 2014
Tundra swans. (NPS Photo/ Tim Rains/via Wikimedia)

Twice in the past week I've heard calling (you can't really call it singing) tundra swans here in southeastern Ohio. The first time was last Friday night just about dusk. I was sitting alone, watching a small bonfire in the fire ring on the hill near our garden when I heard the crazy, high-pitched voices of a flock of tundra swans in the dark sky overhead. Just as my face was breaking into a smile from the realization of what I was hearing—only the second record of tundra swans for our farm—the local coyotes started up, jolted into action I think by the weird, kind of doglike sounds, coming from the sky. I have no idea what the coyotes were thinking but it was a very cool natural catalyst connection.

Listen to a flock of tundra swans:

The second tundra swan episode happened this morning. Bird Watcher's Digest  intern Mollee B. and I were shooting some product shots in the BWD office parking lot when I again heard the swan's anxious yelps. This time it was daylight and, while screaming "HOLY [naughty word]! Tundra swans!" and racing across the lot to alert the BWD staff, I spotted the flock, high overhead.

The swan flock over the BWD offices. I think they came by to check us out!

We all ran out to the front of the building and everyone (except Ann, who ignored my screams—remind me never to go mountain climbing with her—and Dawn, who was out of the office) got to see them. A large V of more than 30 individuals!

I've only seen this species a couple of times here in Washington County, Ohio—usually along the Ohio River in winter. To encounter them twice in one week (and add them to the BWD office list) was a special treat!