Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Chilliwack's Swans

Chilliwack, Agassiz, and the eastern BC Fraser Valley each year welcome home large flocks of Trumpeter Swans that have flown down from parts as far north as Alaska in an effort to escape the cold and find food in our fields and farms.  

At one point this fine bird was almost hunted into extinction so it reassuring to see groups (or bevy) of swans in some numbers returning 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.

A second type of swan called the Tundra Swan may also be found but is difficult to distinguish from the Trumpeter Swan.

Trumpeter Swans

The Trumpeter Swan shown in the photograph below in flying "V" formation is the largest native water fowl in North American and can weigh over 33 pounds. 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 is known as a "swanling" or a "cygnet".

A Wedge in Flight

There is a third type of swan that never leaves Chilliwack.

"Sardis Park" is a 14 acre park nestled into a southern part of Chilliwack in an area called Sardis. Its' large pond is  home to the Mute Swan.  A walk around Sardis Park provides "birders" a wonderful opportunity to view many different types of fowl  at close range. 

For some birds "Sardis Park" is just a temporary home on a flight path further south but others are permanent guests such as the Mute Swans; which were imported into the country.  The Mute Swan is distinguished by its' white plumage and an orange and black bill. 

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

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