Friday, August 28, 2015

Birding Overseas: Mute Swan on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland

Bird activity is pretty quiet on my campus and in my neighborhood. I imagine it's nature catching her breath just before the migratory flocks begin arriving. So I'm digging into the archives to post a couple of birds I photographed on trips overseas over the last decade and a half. In the last post, we were introduced to Alpine Choughs on Mt. Pilatus in Switzerland. Today we have a bird that I've seen in my own neighborhood, the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor). In North America, these swans are considered an invasive species. When we saw them on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland, it was in their natural habitat.
The Mute Swans are one of the largest of the waterfowl, and being as big as they are, they preserve better as fossils than many other birds. The fossils of their ancestors can be found in rocks as old as the Miocene epoch, around 20 million years ago.
The town of Lucerne was one of the cleanest, most beautiful cities I've ever seen. It's on shores of Lake Lucerne, a huge glacially formed body of water in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. The town preserves much of its medieval heritage including some beautiful walls, towers, and covered bridges. It's a marvelous walking city.
And if you look carefully, you'll see that the picture above also has a swan with a couple of cygnets.

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