Monday, July 2, 2012

Today, the second of July, 2012, is the day of the Mute Swan. The thirteenth day of summer leaves 81 days of summer for you to enjoy with friends, family.

At the beginning of spring, 1200 mute swans called White Lake, the
body of water between Montague and Whitehall, home. Drive over the
hill and down towards the eastern bay of White Lake, and the bay looks
like a picture from a fairy tale, dozens of white swans swimming
about. The wonder of this great display of swans has been captured by
the paintings of Missy Morrow, who also paints stars of rock and
Mute swans are as beautiful as the trumpeter swan, but the mute swans
are known for greater aggression. The mute swan out compete waterfowl
for habitat and food. On May 11, 2012, the USDA Wildlife Service and
the Muskegon Conservation District culled 44 mute swans, with a target
of 100 to 300 planned. The cull has been scheduled as an annual event
for the next five years, attempting to reduce the mute swan population
to 200. Swans with cygnets or sitting on eggs have been excluded from
the cull. The beautiful mute swan is the winged version of the asian

You can tell the mute swan by looking at its orange beak with a black
bulb on the top, where the beak connects to the face. It has a
flexible neck that curves. The trumpeter swan has a black beak, no
bulb and a straight up neck. The trumpeter doesn't like to live around
human communities, preferring the wild. The mute swans arrived in
America to beautify estates and parks, and the species has succeeded
famously in this mission. Now we have too many, and we're unwilling to
transfer the birds to places that could use some waterfowl. I
understand roast swan pie was a delicacy in the time of Queen
Elizabeth and Shakespeare. I wonder if it tastes like turkey?

I saw a family of mute swans swimming up Cress Creek from Mona Lake
Sunday. I know the foursome contained a mother and a father, but I
couldn't tell which from which. The adult pair eyed me without panic,
expecting me to toss pieces of bread upon the water. The cygnets still
had fluffy wings incapable of flight. To keep waterfowl off your
lakeshore land, it's only necessary to erect a barrier the children
can't pass over, along the waterline. Only the adult ducks can fly
over it, and the adults won't abandon the children in the water. I met
an older couple on the north shore of White Lake spraying their
immaculately trimmed shoreline grass with a harmless mixture that
tastes like grape soda to ducks. I wonder how people find the time to
spray their trimmed waterfront grass with grape soda? When the
shoreline is too neat, the erosion and runoff tends to foul the water.
It's better to allow natureto raise up a buffer of natural plants.
That natural messiness makes type A people uncomfortable.

Personally, I delight in the mute swans, and I think the solution is
to allocate more acres for the prestige watefowl, the mallards and the
bufflehead. Let Montague and Whitehall be known as a Mute Swan

Missy Morrow:
The cull begins:

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