Mute Swans – A rarity in San Angelo


The past few weeks Ann and I had seen these two Mute Swans (Cygnus olor), out around the Lake Nasworthy area here in San Angelo.  One evening it was late, and they were pretty close to shore in Mary Lee Park.  I decided to take a few photos of them.  It was when I was taking a closer look at the images, then looking in my guides, that I discovered they are very, very rare to Texas.  They are usually found in the Northeast and Great Lakes area.  When Ann sent our sightings to E-Bird they immediately put them on their Rare Bird Alert list.

Mute Swans

It’s funny how you can see something and just take it for granted.  As I said, we got used to seeing them, and it was not a new specie to us, and we didn’t realize that it wasn’t supposed to be around here.  I must say, though, that if they hadn’t been continually dipping their heads in the muddy water they might have been prettier.  But I am not particular.   I photograph what I see.  Like the guy said, “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your swans”. 🙂

Pertinent photo info:  Canon EOS 7D with Canon 100-400mm lens.  1/2500 sec. @ f8, -0.3EV.  Center-weighted metering and aperture priority.  Hand-held.

Click on image to see an enlargement.

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38 thoughts on “Mute Swans – A rarity in San Angelo

  1. Back in 1992 me and some buddies were water skiing at Lake Nasworthy, when I presume it was the female Mute Swan tried to attack our skier. He was not amused when I slowed the boat down to allow her to catch up.
    Turns out we had come to close to her fledglings, there were six if I recall correctly.

  2. The Michigan DNR has waged war on the mute swans here. They have no Michigan studies to show how the swans are effecting our 11,000+ inland lakes. They have no Michigan studies on how fertilzers, power plants, boats, jet skis, weed control methods, treatment plants, etc. are effecting our 11,000 + inland lakes. They say the trumpeter is native to our state, but they are bringing trumpeter eggs from Alaska and hatching them in Michigan. The DNR claims we have 15,500 in Michigan. They get this count from their people using binoculars, flying in one plane, that covers the entire state in one week. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between species when on land, much less from the sky. The DNR Chief of Wildlife, Russ Mason, told us that the DNR caters to the hunters because they support their conservation efforts. They are calling the mute swan cull a hunt. There is no hunting. The swans swim in the water and they shoot them. The ones that try to fly away are shot out of the sky. They are put in trash bags and thrown into landfills. They say that re-location is not an option, that killing is the only way to stop what they call an invasive, non-native species, although they have been in North America since the late 1800s. The Michigan public does not know how to think on their own, and unfortunately, are not questioning anything the DNR is doing to the swans and other wildlife. They are also killing 15,500 to 20,000 native cormorants because they are eating too many fish. Relish what you have down there. Once your DNR finds out the swans are there, they will be chomping at the bit to kill them.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/stop-the-killing-of-mute-swans-in-michigan

    Very nice picture.

  3. I don’t know the difference between the trumpeters and the mute. We have a local pair that I’ve done a little “photo shoot” with, but I’m not sure which type they are. I’m sure the all-knowing-google could help me out with that.
    Either way, I love your shot; it reminds me of warmer days that seem so far away right now. 🙂

    • For one, the Trumpeter has a black bill, and the Mute has an orange bill. I think that would be the most obvious difference. But, thanks a lot for your nice compliment and comment, Karen. 🙂

  4. We don’t get swans down here in south Louisiana except artificially. Our local university campus contains Cypress Lake, which is really a large pond inhabited by cypress trees, fish, turtles, herons, egrets, and small alligators under six feet. One year a local mayoral candidate apparently thought he could win votes by donating a pair of swans to Cypress Lake. In short order, a couple of the alligators had a quick meal of swan gumbo. The gentleman lost the election.

    • Thank you so much, Mia. I guess that is a accurate description of the Mutes here. They ‘escaped’ from the north to get here. Now I’d like to see a Trumpeter. I appreciate your comment.

  5. “Like the guy said, “you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your swans.””

    I guess the Michigan DNR never heard that saying, as they have begun a “police action” against the mute swans here. They haven’t declared a full scale war on the mutes, but close. They have stated that the mutes are an invasive species, which they are. They were imported from Europe after the early white man almost wiped out the native trumpeter swans.

    The number of mute swans has exploded here, you can see them by the hundreds in Muskegon Lake over the winter. Since the mutes are more aggressive, they chase the trumpeters out of the best nesting and feeding spots.

    The Michigan DNR wants to slowly lower the numbers of mutes, and let the native trumpeters.

    I think they are both beautiful birds, the mutes maybe prettier with their orange bills and feet, but hearing the trumpeters is one of those sounds of the wild that you never forget, like the cry of a loon or the howl of a wolf.

    • Thanks, David, for the great comment. I didn’t know that about the Michigan swans. My brother still lives there but he doesn’t get out much and never tells me about these things. When I lived there I wasn’t in to birds too much, and I must admit I don’t remember hearing a Trumpeter Swan. Of course, that was 60 years ago. 🙂

  6. Enjoy. The folks here that own Pagosa Lodge bought some Mute Swans about 5 years ago to put in the Lake . They are absolutely the love of the community as we all await for spring and their new babies. The little ones are so cute and Mom and Dad are really good parents. It is fun just to watch them care for their brood. Our swans have had 3 to 4 young every year. Good photos as usual…

  7. There really is nothing I can think of more elegant than a swan in the water. Gliding. So, so beautiful and their grubby long necks do not detract from this at all.. c

  8. Thanks for the swan. Love them and they always make me think of E.B.White’s novel for children. One of my favorite. Good Job. Carolyn

  9. Oh those stinkers… though I love a person/animal that doesn’t mind getting dirty!

    What a special treat Bob. Now you’ve had your Michigan fix!

    Slow day here… day 2 of very dark skies, sick kids and uninstalling/installing a microwave. (:

    • Chuckle), I love your sense of humor, too, Melissa. 🙂

      If my photo subjects don’t get dirty, then it is sometimes me crawling in the mud.

      I appreciate your comment about me having my Michigan fix. You got that right.

      Cloudy day here, might be great for photos, if I can get caught up with some other stuff first

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