As I teased on last Friday, I stopped by Lake Morton on my way home from Fort De Soto and found a newborn cygnet. I went back on Sunday morning to observe the nest and spend some time with the baby. This little guy has a band of followers (hi Kim! hi Pam!) who spent the weekend watching over the nest. One of the men dubbed him “Baby Friday,” and somehow the name seems to have stuck…
When I first arrived, neither Mom nor baby were on the nest. Papa was sitting hear the nest, which still contained three unhatched eggs. We couldn’t find Mom or Baby out on the lake, and we were starting to wonder what had happened to both of them. The lake is full of predators: the eagle, the herons and wood storks, raccoons, the alligator. But after a few sad moments, we spotted Baby Friday swimming proudly up behind Mama!
Mom and Baby came up onto the shore line to preen. The purple flowers lining the lake right now made for a pretty backdrop for these beautiful white creatures. I couldn’t believe how tame they were. Neither could Dina, who arrived to join the paparazzi crowd. :)
Baby Friday was born with the ability to swim, but he’s not too good on his feet just yet. As he hopped around on the shoreline to preen, he wobbled quite a bit. He seemed to gravitate towards Mom’s foot, but she was preening too, and she kept kicking him inadvertently.
At one point, Mama caught Baby’s foot under hers just as he tried to move away. He ended up flopped on his back. He was so cute as he patiently waited for Mama to realize his predicament and release his foot. Then he got up and continued exploring his newfound world.
As the morning went on, Mama crawled back onto the nest, and Baby followed her. He liked to cuddle up under her wing. I guess he feels protected and safe up next to Mom. He’s so cute!
Mama kept incubating her other eggs while Baby Friday took a nap. They make a cute couple!
The sun got higher, and Mama started to cover Baby Friday with pine needles. He looked pretty funny all covered! I wonder if she was trying to cool him off? Or make him stay still and take a nap? It didn’t work…
Catching bugs is much more interesting than taking a nap. A mosquito flew by his nose, and Baby Friday gobbled it up!
The City of Lakeland puts cygnets into pens with their parents in order to protect them from their predators. While it was fun to observe Baby Friday in his natural environment, he did have a few close calls while I was there. His fan club contacted the City to come and get the little family. How cool that it was early Sunday morning, and yet the lady arrived within an hour or two! I watched as they popped a net over Papa, picked up Mama by the legs and Baby Friday in the other hand, and put Mama and Baby into a pen. Papa immediately pulled free of the net and climbed back up on the nest. As I left, Mama and Baby were exploring their new pen and enjoying the safety of the walls…
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Morton?
Check out my Lake Morton page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!