Sunday, September 23, 2012
Mute Swan on the Bay
The Mute Swan is an invasive species from Europe. I associate this large bird with parks and fresh water. I never considered the mute swan to be a salt water bird, but apparently it takes to both fresh and salt water. I didn't know this when I spotted a mute swan on Biscayne Bay this morning, so I was surprised to see it. The only place I have seen mute swans in south Florida is at the old Crandon park, where several species of exotic birds live. A few years ago I watched a pair having sex in the water and a few months later I photographed the parents with their two young. Here is one photo of the swan family.
On Biscayne Bay, I first spotted it near the boat channel that comes out of Deering Bay. The bird was resting on some rocks near the mangroves as egrets and herons foraged the area in an outgoing tide. Eventually, the bird moved off the rock and began to swim south. For the next hour, I followed it until it reached the launch site near the Deering Estate. On occasion, I got myself between the bird and the shoreline and captured it with some frontlight. I had my flash on the camera and with the better beamer was able to splash the bird's feathers with some fill light (see photo above). The water was dead calm, perfect for this type of shot.
Later at home, I got online and reported my siting to the Center for Invasive Species. Apparently, these birds can be a big problem for other waterbirds because of their aggressiveness. As I searched the net, I ran across a few sites that discussed the management of mute swans in Michigan, which contains the largest mute swan population in North America at over 15,000. The DNR of Michigan issues permits allowing people to kill swans and destroy nests and eggs. This isn't the first time I heard of a bird problem in Michigan. The double crested cormorant has also wreaked havoc on this northern state through its voracious fish diet. I hope this siting is unique and is not an indication that mute swans will become a problem for Biscayne Bay's waterbirds.Here are a couple more photos of the invasive, but beautiful mute swan.