Saturday, December 27, 2014

Swans - Honk If You Like Me - Chilliwack's Winter Visitors

If you hear a loud honking overhead this time of year in Chilliwack, Agassiz, and the eastern BC Fraser Valley it will most likely be a large flock or "bevy" of Trumpeter or Tundra Swans. These birds fly down from parts as far north as Alaska in an effort to escape the winter cold and find food in our fields and farms.  
A Wedge in Flight©Stephen Mullock

The Trumpeter Swan is the largest native bird in North America and can weigh over 33 pounds. They are distinguished by their white feathers and dark beaks. These birds mate for life - so long as eggs are produced, otherwise, "divorce" may occur. An adult male is called a "cob" and a female a "pen".  Their offspring are known as a "swanling" or a "cygnet".

Trumpeter Swans

At one point, this fine bird was almost hunted into extinction.  A big, white target in the sky. So it is reassuring to see their return in numbers each year to Chilliwack, Agassiz and the eastern Fraser Valley. Mahatma Gandhi once said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." Perhaps there is hope for us yet.

Still, they are the noisiest bird in the sky. Not at all like our sweet trilled song birds in the spring these swans, honk and hoot like a drunken choir moving onto the next bar. Their flying could be improved as well - although they were doing pretty well on the day I took the picture above.

There are a lot of great places to see these birds including almost any large farm field but two areas in particular are worth the visit.

"Sardis Park" is a 14 acre park nestled into a southern part of Chilliwack. Its' large pond provides "birders" a wonderful opportunity to view many different types of fowl  at close range. A great place to take a walk with the family.

The Cheam Wetlands is a much larger park some 265 acres in size with a sizeable lake. It is not groomed like the more urban Sardis Park and requires some long lens if you want to take pictures.  Birds in flight as the sun is setting are a pretty sight.

Chilliwack and eastern Fraser Valley communities such as Agassiz, Harrison or Hope offer a special closeness to the wild. The arrival of the Trumpeter and Tundra Swans in November signals that late fall has begun and the winter season approaches.

Imagine living here....

Stephen Mullock
is an award winning full-time real estate specialist with 30 years of experience and hundreds of sales. Thinking of buying or selling real estate in the Fraser Cheam communities of Chilliwack, Agassiz or Harrison Hot Springs? Contact Steve (click here) of Royal LePage Wheeler Cheam Realty for experience, local knowledge and friendly service you’ll be happy you did.

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