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The male swan, far left, glides next to his new mate as the other female swan that tried to woo him looks away. Courtesy photo.
Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2013 4 years ago

Bay Isles swans turn into couple of lovebirds

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

What’s in a name?

Just ask a Longboat Key swan.

Original Bay Isles swans George and Gracie were named after George Burns and Gracie Allen.

Vicki and Henry were named after Longboat Key resident and longtime Publix associate Vicki Workman and her husband, George, whose middle name is Henry.

Stan and Wendy’s names are a nod to the “South Park” characters.

And Alan and Beverly are named for Alan Stone, who first brought George and Gracie to Bay Isles as an anniversary gift to his wife, Beverly.

Now, unofficial swan keeper David Novak has a new pair of swans to name because a male and female swan seem to be an official couple.

“It’s gotten very amorous between the two of them,” he said.

Most cygnets don’t survive to maturity. Novak waits until they reach maturity and pair off, because coupling implies a sense of permanence for swans.

The male and female seemed likely to mate the last couple of seasons. Then, they found themselves in the middle of a love triangle when a new female began flying in and spending time with them. But after Novak removed Henry to reunite him with his longtime love, Vicki, the male and female began spending more time together in Henry and Vicki’s old territory.

“I was waiting for some sense of whether it’s going to work out,” Novak said of naming the pair. “Now I feel fairly confident that it will.”

He expects the newly coupled female to eventually chase off the other female.

So what will Novak name the lovebirds?

At first, William and Kate seemed to be the obvious choice to Novak, given the swan family’s recently discovered royal heritage. The third swan could be Pippa. (Novak hasn’t decided whether to give her a name.)

The family descended from a pair of swans that Queen Elizabeth II gifted in 1957 to Lakeland after predators decimated the local population.

He has changed his mind, however, but won’t reveal the names until the end of April.

The male will be named after a famous individual, and the female will be named after a Longboater whose first name is common on the Key. Novak plans to stay silent on the last name of the woman, which will keep people guessing about for whom the swan is actually named.

Novak describes the male as “excellent looking,” while both the female and her rival have trim figures because their flying keeps them in shape.

That means the Key will be expecting a nest full of beautiful babies from the couple. But residents will have to wait.

Nesting season is in February and March, meaning they’ve missed this year. Females typically don’t nest until they’re 4 or 5 years old; this female, however, is only 3.

That means there could be a nest next year, but Novak thinks the couple’s first nest is more likely in 2015.

Nest numbers
The newest pair hasn’t nested yet, but two other couples are still expecting. The nest of Wendy and Stan has six eggs, and the nest of Beverly and Alan has seven eggs. David Novak expects the nests to hatch during the last week of April.

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