Back a couple of weekends ago when Daisy and I and our friends Mike and Lena were in Cape May Daisy and I snuck off Sunday morning for a walk around the Nature Conservancy’s Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge.  We enjoyed the common birds around the refuge, which included a couple of different pairs of Mute Swans that had nests.  One swan from each pair, most likely the female, would stay on the nest while the second patrolled the area keeping everything else away, not that much dared get near a Mute Swan on a defensive patrol (them things are big and mean and nasty).  Anyway, this system seemed to work fine and the wetlands were calm.  Calm, that is, until a nestless and presumably therefore restless pair of Mute Swans glided in to a landing…

Now, just watching them try to gracefully surf to a stop on those big ol’ flipper-feet of theirs was funny enough but when they finally lost enough momentum and would have face-planted if they didn’t beat their wings (like the bird in the back is doing in the pictures above) it was nearly enough to make us laugh out loud.  But then the poor things had to laboriously make their way back into the air anyway because one of the nest defenders came charging out to chase them from whet he perceived as his turf.

The poor harried pair, who we could only imagine wanted somewhere to rest for a bit and eat in peace, were chased off to another section of wetland where another swan sallied forth and scared them off again.  But this time the route that one of the escaping swans took was pretty much directly at Daisy and I who while I took these shots exchanged comments like “This bird has got to be crazy!” and “Holy cow, is it going to crash into us?” and “Duck!” though, of course, it would have been much appropriate to have yelled “Swan!”

I just wish that all of the shots were in focus.  None of the pictures in that series is cropped though, and I think if we had tried we could have tackled the swan out of the air.  But I bet that would have hurt something awful: those swans can put a hurtin’ on you if they want.  Anyway, this all leads to a question: have you ever had a bird crash into you?


Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.