We had the good fortune of moving to a rural area surrounded by wetlands a few years ago. The wetland right behind our house supported a pair of trumpeter swans. We saw the pair consistently for several weeks and all of a sudden there was only one adult. We were devastated. The one swan remained alone and then one day, we couldn’t believe our eyes. There were two swans on the wetland followed by 5 little brown heads—their cygnets. What tremendous joy we felt as we watched them drift slowly across the pond, one adult stationed at the front of the brood and one at the back. After watching them for about 10 days, there appeared to be only 4 cygnets. And, just as mysteriously, a few weeks before the Canada Goose opener, one of the adults disappeared. For two weeks, we watched the family with a heavy heart and trepidation, because hunting season was opening soon. The cygnets were still in their downy stage, a late hatch, since they should have had white feathers by now. We worried that they could easily be mistaken for Canadian Geese and a stray bullet could fell the remaining adult. Then what? How would the cygnets survive? The days went by slowly and fewer and fewer hunters appeared at the wetland. A few days after it appeared that the hunters were gone for the season, the second adult and fifth cygnet reappeared, just as mysteriously as they had disappeared.
Our human minds were convinced that the swans would be felled by stray bullets–how could they hide in the small, unprotected seven-acre wetland? We don’t know how they survived but they did–and we were privileged to see the pair give their five cyngets flying lessons before heading out for their fall migration.
This was an important lesson for me. The adult swans knew what they had to do to keep their brood safe–far better than any of us could have imagined. The swans exhibited an innate and profound wisdom–and their actions inspired this website.