For The Birds

June 24th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor

While bike riding in the nearby Massapequa Preserve yesterday, I came across a glorious sight. Twelve swans floating as one in the creek that’s fed from the large pond a little further upstream. Other people also stopped to observe, one remarking “Six pair”. Everyone knows that where there’s one swan, there are usually two. Thus, multiple swans should turn out in pairs. They mate for life (something we humans can learn from). I spent a few moments drinking in their beauty before continuing on my way.
On my reverse trip, it seems that a Swan Lady had appeared, knee deep in the water, looking magical as the swans surrounded her. Then it became apparent, as the scene tarnished by the  fact that she was feeding them along with a smattering of baby ducks.  We were always told not to. Had something changed? As if reading my mind, she turned to me and said “It’s actually good for them. It’s wheat bread, not white”, she added in defense, as each swan politely took its turn accepting her offering by hand. I was somewhat skeptical but thought that she might be a swan expert, so certain was she in her conviction . She seemed pleased with herself at saying they had finished off the loaf. She had brought two and immediately began doling out the second one as more people gathered to watch. “Do you have any bread for the birds?” she asked a set of toddler twins. “If you do, then you can feed them too”.
On the other side of the preserve is yet another pond, along with a prominently placed sign facing Merrick Rd. DO NOT FEED THE WATERFOWL. It was posted by the Department of Environmental Conservation listing the reasons:
Poor Nutrition
Increased Hybridization
Water Pollution
Delayed Migration
Concentration At Unnatural Sites
Spread of Disease
Costly Management Efforts
Unnatural Behavior
Cumulative Effects (one person feeds them, then another and so on)
Devaluation of the Species
And so, dear people, please leave nature to itself. It’s quite capable of providing for itself without any “help” from us, however well intentioned. It’s done so since the dawn of time. Take the bread home and spread some peanut butter and jelly on it for your kids. There are other ways of teaching your children about nature, beginning with suppressing the urge to feed the birds. They are not starving. They beg for food the same way your dog or cat does but the added distinction lies in the fact that these creatures are wild. So enjoy them at a distance with all the respect that they deserve. Meanwhile, the Swan Lady has prompted me to request another sign from the DEC to be posted at the Swan Lady’s site. It seems that it is she who needs to be re-educated, not I.
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3 Responses to “For The Birds”

  1. Place dzieciece Says:

    for the birds to u …whadawethink….very ecclect stuff here

  2. me Says:

    It’s always a pleasure to come across someone who knows everything. Another product of a PBS education. Please do the world a favor and stay hope feeding your kids peanut butter and jelly on wonder bread. And keep tuned in to that Nature channel.

  3. magdalena Says:

    On the contrary…..the reason I tune into PBS is to become better informed. I simply pass on the information to those who care to learn something. It’s when we think we know it all that life becomes mundane. I hate Wonder Bread…..

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