Wednesday, 19 January 2011
This morning, two swans started fighting outside my boat. I'm a hands-off person when it comes to wildlife, thinking we humans do so much damage when we interfere, but it was a really upsetting sight to see these beautiful birds trying to kill each other. I admit I did try to distract them with food and clapping hands, but they were oblivious to everything else. There's the constant beating of wings on the other's body while biting the neck, then the stronger one tries to drown the other by holding its head under water with beak and wing. It went on for about 40 minutes until they drifted out of sight around a bend in the canal, one being held under for longer and longer periods and flapping more feebly.
I told myself that perhaps they have to fight to the death to avoid the huge energy drain from frequent battles. Perhaps a single death can establish the male's dominance for it's lifetime, ensuring that famous monogamy and protective parenting among swans. There will be a good evolutionary reason for these deaths (unlike so many perpetrated by humans), but it's still very hard to witness.
Posted by C at 14:44