I need some help from ‘swanologists.’ So do Boston’s ducklings. In the middle of Boston’s Public Garden, there is a large pond (although for some reason it’s called a lagoon, even though it’s not a lagoon). Every year, two swans, Romeo and Juliet, are brought to the Lagoon and released to build a nest (it turns out that both swans are female. LESBIAN SWANS!! AAAIEEE!!!).
Last weekend, I happened to be in the Public Garden all three days (long weekend), and every day I saw a swan (no idea if it was Romeo, Juliet, or both) that was chasing after ducklings.
By chasing, I mean that it would see ducklings and their mother 50+ yards away, and light out after them. I don’t simply mean fluffing up their wings and swimming towards them. They would pursue them relentlessly–often across the entire pond–rising out of the water to pick up additional speed (and probably scare the duckling), striking at the duckling with their beaks. One day I saw one swan prevent the flock of ducklings from entering the pond: wherever the ducks went to try to jump in, the swan was right there hissing at them. That day, the swan even jumped out of the water and pursued them on land.
It gets even more vicious. The swan (again, no idea which one) will try to isolate a couple ducklings and then pursue those ducklings. The duck’s mother then tries the ‘broken wing’ gambit (squawking loudly and then veering off, in an attempt to draw the swan away). It never works. These swans are on a mission. And I don’t think this was a bad weekend, since I saw this same behavior last Thursday evening.
What makes this really weird is that the swans’ nest is surrounded by sleeping ducks, often only a few feet away from the nest. It can’t be they’re trying to shoo birds away from the nest: why would ducklings be more of a threat than fully-grown ducks? (not to mention the occasional cormorant).
Does anyone have an explanation for this behavior? Are these just evil, demented swans? I would like to think not, since the swans also hate geese, which makes them good in my book….