In a Teachable Moment

© Babsje (

Mute swan cygnet tries to fly.


Thanks to Michelle W and WordPress for their Weekly Photo Challenge: Contrasts. Unlike tree-top dwellers who launch out of the nest for their maiden flight, the swans’ process of learning to fly is quite a contrast: the cygnet must develop sufficient wing muscle bulk, not to mention huge feathers, in order to achieve that first lift-off from the water’s surface. The male parent shows the cygnets how this is done by example, flapping his enormous wings as he advances across the water and finally upwards, the percussive slaps of his wings as they strike the surface resounding through the air like canon shot. I had been observing the swan family in this photo for several weeks, watching the father demonstrate his take off technique back and forth across the small lake. Then, one day, one of the cygnets imitated his father, rearing up in the water, trying to scoop the air with his budding wings to achieve liftoff. At this stage in his development, though, he lacked flight feathers and so his baby wings seemed more like plucked chicken wings than anything else. It was an endearing spectacle!

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

Thanks to Wordless Wednesday for the Wordless Wednesday challenge.

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. (

Mute Swan, Cygnet

Posted on July 9, 2014, in Art, Audubon, Birds, Humor, Mute Swan, Nature, Parenting, Photography, Photography challenge, postaday, Weekly Photo Challenge, Wild Bird Wednesday, Wildlife Photography, Wordless Wednesday and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 25 Comments.

  1. Awww, how utterly sweet. It does remind me of my little bald eagle trying out his wings and hopping up off his branch. All of it quite miraculous to watch.

    • I agree with your eagle comparison, they are fascinating and it is indeed amazing that they learn to fly. Glad you like this one. Many thanks for your kind words!

  2. Learning to fly is not easy when you are little.

    • You are absolutely right about that, Neil! And somehow your comment feels poignant, and can you imagine what that first taste of flight must feel like to a baby bird? Thanks for visiting and commenting, glad you like this one,

  3. I am so loving watching these swans through your eyes:)

  4. HI It is wonderful when observing the same birds over time to be able to see these special training times. Thanks for sharing.Those parents have their hands ful with so many cygnets.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Margaret, and I agree. Glad you like this one. Last year there ended up being 12 cygnets on the lower stretch of the lake, from two broods!

  5. You have to give the little one credit for trying, he’ll make it one of these days!

    • Indeed he will! He just looked so funny standing there poised for flight, featherless! Glad you like this one, thanks for visiting and commenting again.

  6. Wish I could have seen it.

  7. precious:-) We are seeing the babies and parents all the time, but now that we are flooded and riding down a canal until the MIssissippi goes below flooding stage, I miss them…..they are so cute + often I almost fall off my bike looking at them:-) great catch!

    • Thanks, Robbie, glad you like the cygnets. I didn’t realize it was flood time along the Mississippi so early in the summer, but glad that you have an alternate bicycle route for the time being. Maybe you can see some more herons there, too? Thanks for your kind words.

  8. I love watching swans. I think the cygnets I saw today were having a swimming contest. I’m not sure who won. 🙂

  9. This is a great moment that you captured!

  10. Adorable!

  11. Cute shot. He’s determined, when those feathers come in, he’s going to be ready to go!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: