First, a picture of cute babies taken a few weeks back. This mom, I call her Sally, brought the babies to my yard. I fed them corn soaked in water. This picture was taken a few weeks back, when they were wee babies.
Below, the babies again, older. They grow fast. In only two weeks they went from wee wee cute things to small cute things. They are feisty, though. The mother charges any male duck who approaches. I've seen her jump up and peck at a male Turkey who backed away--peaceful and confused. Eventually the babies imitated the mother and started charging other creatures in the yard, even drakes. Spunky things.
The video below needs an explanation.
So, I walk into the kitchen and look out the window at this scene. To the left is a small geese family. It looks like parents, one baby and maybe an aunt or some relative who is helping the parents. I have no idea why there is only one baby. I assume a tragic attack by coyotes or something. In front, beyond the open gate, is the duck mommy and her babies, all sitting in the grass by the pond. Beyond the duck family is the swan mommy and her babies. In front of the mom and signets is the swan daddy, contemplating whether or not he will climb up and walk into my yard. Go after the geese. To the right is another large geese family. Six goslings and two parents. All these babies and parents are sitting in the grass staring out at the swans.
The ducks eventually want to get the hell away from the swans, so you will see them walk inside and march into my yard, moving to the right, away from what appears to be a potential battle. Whatever is going on, one thing is clear--this is an us versus them event. Us being native waterfowl. Them being invasive swan family.
I assume the swan family entered the pond, the dad slowly swimming behind them. I suspect the dad noticed the geese families and became aggressive. He would try to kill the babies, although he'd have a difficult time with all those adult geese protecting them. Still he is a force of nature.
So, they all came through the open fence door and made themselves home here in my yard, daring the swans to enter. The dad swan seemed to consider coming in and starting trouble but he did notice me looking at him. He stopped. The swans eventually left.
And I had a lot of poop to clean up.
Usually I try to gently encourage the geese to move back into the pond, even though the babies are cute and the geese are interesting. They poop nonstop. Eat grass, poop it out. That's about all they do.
I let them stay a while to escape the monster family. It made for a great video too.
First.... more babies! I helped these geese protect babies back when the swan monster tried to kill them. The parents brought them back the next day--when they were very little. Today they're back. Now with their adolescents, or maybe tweens. I don't know. They're bigger.
Nesting season is fun because of all the babies. Water fowl have all kinds of hazards because they lay their eggs on land, where predators are everywhere.
But tree nesters also have predators. Hawks, raccoons are a constant threat. Snakes. And, well, sadly us humans. Particularly humans who run utilities that cut down trees during nesting season.
--TREE CUTTING DURING NESTING SEASON
Utilities that trim their trees or cut them down when it's convenient for them like during nesting season are engaging in reckless, cruel behavior. Even if the nest is moved during this time, usually the babies do not survive, because they are placed upon the ground. The parent birds will try but usually it's hopeless. Private property owners sometimes cut trees during nesting season. We usually do not regulate private property owners and some of them don't understand the importance of nesting to our ecosystem. We can only try to convince them to try to see themselves as living among the wildlife, not in spite of the wild life. But utility companies serve communities, are regulated, create enormous societal costs. They should know better.
I have already put up articles on the decline of birds, but I will once again put up an article by the about a 2019 study that found significant drops in bird population since 1970. 1 in 4 birds disappeared. And the drop was in several common, everyday backyard birds we are all used to seeing. Juncos. Warblers. Blackbirds. Even finches. Dropping in population fast.
Of course, the biggest contributor to the bird decline are cats. Then humans. Windows. Planes. And utility companies who display no concern for their societal and environmental damage when they aggressively trim trees or destroy trees in May and June.
Like Eversource. Eversource announced back in April they were going to aggressively trim trees to prevent extended outages. We have a history of bad storms causing long outages. That's because we have an arboreal landscape. Eversource, however, also said they would be cutting down 100 trees. Healthy trees. These trees, they suggested, were hazardous to lines.
First trees. Did you know the average tree absorbs 330 pounds of carbon dioxide? Even if you plant trees to offset this carbon footprint, that new tree takes at least a decade of growth to catch up.
But, OK, maybe the utility company is in a bad position. They have to cut trees to prevent storm damage. It's a cost, and new plantings will not immediately offset this cost, but they have to do it. We all get this.... But here's the deal....
SOME UTILITIES, LIKE CONNECTICUT'S EVERSOURCE, ARE CUTTING DOWN TREES DURING NESTING SEASON! MAY AND JUNE!
There is no excuse for this horrendous tree management. And when I called Eversource's PR representative and asked why they were cutting trees during May and June, her standard reply ("we follow all environmental guidelines") revealed no thoughtful understanding of why nesting season tree destruction should be avoided. She did not appear to understand the problem with bird population declines and how the risk of nest destruction could impact migratory populations all over the Eastern coast. They probably try to save nests, as I believe it's illegal to destroy nests, but unless they avoid taking down the tree, chances are high a moved nest will be nonproductive.
I called legislators too, and one promised to talk with Eversource.
But today, June 11, Eversource put out another press release, now claiming they are doing EMERGENCY tree trimming and cutting. Apparently the trees are dangerously close to the wires and they just noticed this. So now it's an emergency. Somehow back in April when they first announced the aggressive tree trimming, it was not an emergency. Now that neighbors have protested tree cutting, it is an emergency that has to be done right away. So, instead of assuring the community they are doing everything possible to consider environmental damage--maybe planting new trees, or checking trees for nests before cutting them down--they seem to be doubling down. It has to done right away because it's now an emergency. (if it is indeed an emergency, could this not have been predicted months ago?)
We're already suffering from impact of the utility and energy industries' neglect of their impact upon global warming. Years of lobbying to keep regulation at bay, allowed them to continue to spew CO2 into our atmosphere. I was an bond utility analyst during the years when action could have alleviated our current global warming situation. I met with some companies who spent millions and millions on lobbies to stop regulation. It was way off in the future, didn't impact anything in the current, some even laughed at the "tree huggers." Some of the companies had good points--one being that US utility pollution control on a per BTU basis was quite competitive. Certainly the biggest polluter was (and is, although they are turning it around) China. But our growth still resulted in significant nominal contribution of global environmental damage. In my opinion, utility executives who were sincerely concerned about the environment, who did not laugh or suggest environmentalists were "tree huggers", who did not spend an inordinate amount of money on lobbyists, usually lead well-run, efficient energy companies. They tended to be excellent nuclear operators, and had good relationships with regulators.
If you are reading this and think, well, this is Connecticut's problem. They have a utility company who disregards wildlife. No, it's not just Connecticut's problem. Migratory birds fly south in the fall and back here to nest in the spring. Some fly west and then back here to nest. Birds are everywhere. They belong to all of us. What Eversource is doing to nests here will impact the entire Eastern coastal territory.
Call them. Call your legislator. Force utilities to care about our bird population.
Maybe they should read the article below. Click on the crow below to read about the decline in birds.
Remember when the swan was a monster after the geese? Sure, he's an alpha and territorial, regardless of circumstances. But below is the real reason for his extreme aggression. Signets, or baby swans.
Five signets are now at a relatively safe size. The snapping turtles are no longer a real threat to them now. Snapping turtles mate and nest here, so... Then signets are still threatened by numerous predators from above. Hawks. Owls. And then there are the minks and coyotes etc.
Five signets is a success. They have survived storms, which bring surges into the grasses where the female swan nests. They have survived muskrats, raccoons, crows, minks, hawks, grackles (the most obnoxious bird on earth and a constant threat to nests).
Now they have to make sure the babies get food--tons of food, which makes it difficult for the other waterfowl. We have a duck family across the pond and I am nervous they swan Dad may go after them. However, I've never seen the swans go after ducks. That's because the ducks do not compete for the exact same food.
Below are the new signets.
I like to write about people, animals, dogs. I enjoy ideas, good books about ideas, funny books about ideas, funny people who have ideas, advocates for people who don't have voices to express their ideas, and animals who have ideas we can't understand.