After Madison’s Lake freeze, the tundra swans on University Bay will continue their migration to open waters in the Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere. During the migration period they gather in huge flocks. It is believed that the tundra swans mate for life. But after they mate and have reached their breeding grounds in the northern tundra, they fiercely defend their large territories and live as solitary pairs.
Perhaps this attitude when defending their territory carries over at times to when the tundra swans migrate in their large flocks, and would explain the at times aggressive social behavior that we observe on University Bay. In her photos during the last week of December, Arlene Koziol has captured the tundra swans' peaceful gathering along the ice edge and well as their downright nastiness toward one another. The juveniles, still colored gray, wisely stay out of disputes among adults and bend their necks and even crouch down to the water surface to show their submission. Please see all of Arlene's photos and short movies of the tundra swans here. Learn more at Birds of the World.
Gisela Kutzbach and contributors