Monday, January 21, 2013
Cobs and Pens
Can you tell which ones are pairs? Seems pretty obvious, doesn't it? Males are called "cobs" and females are called "pens." I don't make this stuff up. My guess is that males are called cobs because they are so rough while females are called pens because they are so domestic. You're welcome to your own opinion.
The majority of the time, the swans were very quiet and most were feeding. Like geese, anyone not eating was standing lookout. But then, every once in a while one would get to honking and it would be joined by what appeared to be it's mate. This would become an encouragement to others and they would all join in the "celebration" as they swam to meet each other.
While it made for great pictures, what motivated the "meet-ups" or what purpose they served was not completely clear. In some photos the action might be interpreted as being mating ritual, but I wouldn't swear to it. I would expect that ritual would be a little more involved than what I was seeing.
The migration back to the north will probably take place around the end of February to the middle of March. The actual nesting season in the high arctic is from about May through September. In that time they have to recover their strength from migrating, build a nest, lay the eggs, hatch the young (which takes 2 to 2-1/2 months), and raise them to the point where they can migrate with the parents. That is a pretty compressed schedule!
Once in a while I realize what a privilege it is to peek into the lives of these wondrous creatures and share them with you. I am glad I can share some of the experience with you, the reader.