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Wendy and Stan pictured Friday, May 10, with their 6-day-old cygnets. Photos courtesy of Lou Newman
Longboat Key Wednesday, May. 15, 2013 4 years ago

Swan family: The next generation

by: Robin Hartill Managing Editor

Call it a case of empty-nest syndrome.

Unofficial swan keeper David Novak checked the nest of Stan and Wendy May 4 and found the nest had hatched.

He found Stan, Wendy and their six cygnets navigating the Harbourside waters more than a quarter-mile from the nest.

“Stan and Wendy really fooled me,” he said.

Four days later, another five cygnets made their debut from the nest of Alan and Beverly.

Stan and Wendy’s cygnets are already moving aggressively through the Longboat Key Club & Resort Harbourside waterways, according to Novak.

“Stan and Wendy are moving frequently and protecting them well,” he said. “They’re teaching them to graze, and when I approach, I’m challenged vigorously.”

As for Alan and Beverly, four cygnets appear to be healthy, but one is injured and is unlikely to survive.
Novak originally discovered the nests in late March. Because swan eggs have a 35-day incubation period, he expected the next generation of swans to hatch in late April.

But predicting a hatch date is difficult because a swan may lay eggs and then hold off on sitting on them for a few days. The 35-day clock doesn’t begin until the swans sit and stay.

There’s more happy news for the Harbourside swan family: As reported last month in the Longboat Observer, a male and female swan have entered official couple territory, meaning that Novak finally gave them names.

He dubbed the male Sully in honor of US Airways Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully landed Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in New York City.

“If you’ve ever seen a swan fly, it’s extremely awkward,” Novak said. “They land in the water, and it’s almost a controlled dive. They float down because their bodies are so heavy.”

Like Sullenberger’s famous landing, it isn’t graceful, but it gets the job done.

“Perhaps this is the first swan to be named for him,” Novak said.

Sully’s mate is Suzie, who’s named for two Key residents: Susan Coyne, who has supported the Regal Swan Foundation, in Kissimmee, which has assisted with the swans’ care in recent years; and Sue Gilchrist.

“Sue is my strength, guidance, love and inspiration for 21 years,” Novak said. “No further explanation needed.”

Meet the newest swan pair

He’s named for US Airways Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who successfully landed Flight 1549 in the Hudson River in New York City after his airplane struck a flight of Canadian geese.

But, unlike Sullenberger, Sully isn’t racking up frequent-flier miles.

“Sully is content to fly less,” David Novak said. “The two females will fly around Islandside, but he seems to be more involved in defending his territory. He will go out of his territory and fly with them, but then he sits back. Give him a remote control, and he’d be perfect.”

Her first name is Suzie. Her middle initial? Q., of course.

She’s named after two Longboaters: Susan Coyne, a supporter of local causes, including the Regal Swan Foundation; and Sue Gilchrist, Novak’s “strength, guidance, love and inspiration for 21 years.”

Another female swan sought Sully’s affections, but, in the end, Suzie won his heart.

Suzie is more aggressive, especially in feeding, compared to the unnamed female, and seems to have a “Type A” personality.

“At the same time, she has a softer side, as evidenced when she was romancing Sully,” Novak said.
So, are cygnets in the future for this pair?

It could happen next season, according to Novak, although 2015 is more likely. That’s because their relationship is a May-December romance. Sully is 5, while Suzie is just 3 or 4, meaning that she’s still an adolescent in swan years.

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