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Longboat Key Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017 1 year ago

Wingin' It: Longboat Key swan moved

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Susie moved to the Islandside Golf Course, and Greta and Clark were named the new mating pair.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

The swan song for Longboat Key’s mating pair Susie and Sully has hit its final note.

On Nov. 24, Susie had her wings pinioned, which prevents flight, and was moved into her new territory on the Islandside Golf Course with hopes of creating a new connection.

Longboat Key’s unofficial swankeeper, David Novak, said that Susie’s wing was not pinioned when she was a cygnet, so if he moved her to Islandside without pinioning, she would have flown back to Harbourside or off the island. He said that any exotic animal, swans included, escaping their territory and invading the territory of native animals is not viewed favorably by the state of Florida. Novak calls this move positive after all Susie has been through since her mate Sully’s death on April 28. Novak suspects Sully died from a bacterial infection.

After Sully’s death, Susie tried raising their four cygnets on her own. Within 10 days, one went missing. She moved the remaining three to the small pond on the Harbourside Golf Course across from Publix, where male swans, Tut and Phil lived. Tut tried to step in as a father figure, but it didn’t work out.

After that, Susie began culling her young. Novak found two cygnets abandoned and tried to bring them back, but they didn’t survive.

“It’s normal when they have any number of cygnets,” Novak said. “There will be some selection [culling] and it’s done by the male. The male will pick out a weak one and peck it away or drown it because he feels that it’s not going to survive.”

And because Sully wasn’t around, Susie had to cull and do everything else Sully would have done. Within a week, Susie had no cygnets left. Novak said this reiterates the reason behind why swans pair.

“They pair because it’s really necessary for them to be protected from predators and to allow them to sleep, and it’s very natural for them to pair and necessary for them to pair,” he said.

Susie then became a fixture on Harbourside with Tut and Phil. Soon after, Novak said romance started to brew, and Tut is older and dominant, so he had dibs on Susie. Tut began to chase Phil away from food, so Novak had the choice of moving Susie to Islandside or moving Phil.

His decision in moving Susie was validated by the discovery of Clark, a swan originally thought to be a female but is actually a male.

So, the swan population will now, hopefully, be carried on by Clark and Greta, and Susie is on her own and getting accustomed to her new home on Islandside.

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