Of Ducks, Geese, and Swans

As I pedal my way to and from work, I have the opportunity to ponder a great many things. This morning, I spent the ride observing and thinking about waterfowl. I know there are some closet biologists out there that will certainly be able to shed some light on these observations.

First, why do swans feel the need to pedal their feet as they are landing? I watch as they approach the water for a landing and just before they touch down, they crank up their feet and look like they are almost trying to run on the water. I imagine this motion must serve a purpose, perhaps it helps to keep them from landing with a cartwheel? Are they actually steering?

Secondly, on a body of water where it’s partly frozen and partly open, I consistenly notice the ducks are in the open portion and the geese are standing on the frozen portion? Is this just dumb luck that I happen to pass by various groups of birds that behave this way, or is there something else going on? An East coast phenomena? I’ve certainly noticed the ducks and geese prefer not to mingle, so I could understand one or the other type of birds occupying the various parts of the inlet.


  1. I found your observations interesting. I’m going to check out those avian habits in the midwest at my first opportunity. Recently, you wrote of the financial and physical benefits of biking. You could add the mental stimulation, and the knowledge acquistion which come from the opportunity to observe and think about your environment instead of concentrating on the movement of other vehicles.

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