Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery (and a Powerful Way to Learn)

Or maybe they’re doing the hokey-pokey:

You put your left foot in,
You put your left foot out…

© Babsje (

Cygnets learning how to paddle with just one foot by imitating their parent swan.


Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

Thanks to Josh R and WordPress for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Family. (The whole family of swans was lined up on the lake that day, parents flanking their seven cygnets. All seven cygnets were imitating the lead parent, with one foot out of the water at the same time. Remarkable demonstration of learning by imitating!)

Thanks once again to Stewart Monckton for the Wild Bird Wednesday prompt.

Thanks once again to Cee for her Fun Foto Challenge: Found in Nature prompt.


A selection of my heron and flower photos is now available at the Five Crows Gallery in Natick, MA. Drop in and see the work of the many wonderfully creative artists who show there when you’re in the area.

Five Crows is on FaceBook. To give the gallery a visit, please click here.

Remember: Walk softly and carry a long lens.™

The Tao of Feathers™

© 2014 Babsje. (

Swan, Cygnet

Posted on January 22, 2014, in Art, Birds, Cee's Fun Foto Challenge, Nature, Parenting, Photography, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography, Wordless Wednesday and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Imitation is flattery. Thanks so much for playing along. See you next week!

  2. What a great capture, they are fast learners.

  3. Adorable shot of mom and her babies!

    • Thanks, Phil! I lived on their lake for a few years, those swans OWNED that lake. They chased off a couple of paddle-boaters who got too close to the nest one afternoon. You could hear one of the women shrieking across the lake! Too funny.

  4. Nice shot!

    Happy Wordless Wednesday! My entry is here

  5. If I know swans at all, it’s definitely the Hokey Cokey!! 😉

  6. I’d love to know why they do that…like a sort of natural footrest!

    • Good question, Ben! I’m ot sure why, myself, though it does give them a chance to strengthen each leg one at a time. Sometimes they stand on just one leg, so it cous be an adaptive behavior. Thanks for visiting and commenting here.

  7. This is just too darned cute!

    • Glad you like it! I had noticed that adult swan swimming with one foot out of the water a lot, and was amazed when I realized the cygnets were playing “monkey see, monkey do.”

  8. Must be like learning to paddle a canoe without having to keep swapping the paddle from side to side!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  9. Just like kids of all species – copying the adults! Great post!

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