New Ecopsychology
or Spiritual Ecology


Mute Swan

(Cygnus olor)

This is one of the largest flying birds. Its beak is orange-red with a black tip; the beaks of young swans are pink with a black tip and basis.

Swans nest near stagnant or slowly moving water where there is a lot of meal: water plants.

Swans form life-long pairs. Caressing each other, birds swim together, shake the head or incline it here and there, bow, dip the beak into water, and then put the neck atop of the neck of the partner.

Building a nest, the female plucks plants in front of itself and puts them behind. As a result, a big heap of plants is formed.

The young are brought up by both parents. Nestlings of wild swans are grey, but nestlings raised as domestic animals — white or grey only in part. The plumage of young wild swans (not nestlings) is grey too; they become white only as a result of subsequent molting. Whiteness of plumage indicates also sexual maturity.

Whooper Swan

(Cygnus cygnus)

The beak of the whooper swan is yellow with the black end. Young birds have a brownish head and neck; the belly is white; the beak and legs are pinkish. The whooper swan usually swims holding the neck vertically and not raising the wings, what is typical for the mute swan.

It is curious, that they always stay away from mute swans.

Their display begins on wintering. Birds make loud blaring sounds. They stand one against another, spread their wings, and make snake-like movements by the necks. During the courtship display, both partners make identical pas.

The female builds a nest as a big heap of plants on small islands in a bog or simply right on shallowness.

The clutch is incubated by the female; the male guards her.

When swans go with their young overland, the mother usually goes ahead, then the young follow, and then — the daddy.

The young in the beginning are covered with grey down, then — with grey young plumage, and in their first winter they gain white feathers. For the second winter, birds lose their last grey feathers, and this indicates that the bird has reached the age of sexual maturity.

All swans are pure vegetarians.


(Anas platyrhynchos)

The mallard is only little less in size than the domestic duck. The male in spring has a black with greenish tint head and neck; the breast is brown; the beak is yellow-green; the legs are orange. At the neck from below, there is a white collar. The female is reddish-brown with a lighter belly; its beak is pinkish with dark middle.

All ducks form pairs only for one season.

Courtship display of drakes can be seen in all park reservoirs. During a courtship display, all drakes swimming on the surface of the reservoir gather in one place and vigorously move by their beaks under the raised wings. This resembles cleaning of feathers. Then drakes raise their bodies many times above the water and shake heads. Thus they show one of the three courtship display figures. For example, a drake quickly raises his head, wings and tail upwards, that is, as if he tries to become larger, and gives a whistle. Making these movements, he directs his beak towards one of females. Sometimes he swims in circles around her. He can also do another figure: he makes little fountain from his beak to her side, whistles, then directs the beak upwards. Displaying the third figure, a drake inclines forward and then raises in jerky movement his head up. This is the end of the courtship display, which can start again in half an hour from "cleaning of feathers" and shaking the head.

A female chooses a drake. She swims around of the chosen one and repeatedly makes nods with her head. Then the pair leaves the flock and starts to make bows in front of each other. After copulation they "bathe" in water for a long time.

The mallard’s nest is usually well hidden; sometimes it is even rather far from the water. Both partners search the place for construction of the nest. Quite often, one can see in park a pair of a newly married couple walking in grass in searches for the place for constructing a nest.

The female lines the nest with blades and down.

Tufted Duck

(Aythya fuligula)

The male of this duck is black with white sides and belly; the female is black-brown with a light bottom. The beak and legs of both are grey; the eyes are yellow. The male has on the nape a long crest, which hangs down almost up to back.

This duck differs from other ducks by high pliability in relation to choosing the place for nesting. Lakes of middle depth surrounded with reeds and with rich underwater vegetation are ideal for it. But sometimes these ducks settle in silent river creeks; in some regions they settle on city ponds where they live together with mallards and gulls and become almost tame.

Tufted ducks are birds of passage; usually they fly at night in flocks, low above the ground. Their wings make loud whistling sounds.

Males display in spring on water.

The female chooses the place for nest usually on an island close to water or directly on bog, frequently — nearby a colony of gulls or terns. In a bog, she makes a heap of plants, but on the dry ground a pit under bushes is enough. If the water level rises — she lifts the nest, increasing its height.

Ducklings can dive already on the first day of life, but in the first week they search for food only on the surface of water eating larvae of mosquitoes. Ducklings are very independent, they can go without help of adults from the second week, and in two months after birth they leave the parents. At this time, they are not able to fly yet.

Adult tufted ducks find food almost exclusively under water diving on the depth up to 7, but sometimes and up to 14 meters.