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Birds of a Feather 3

Related Pages: Birds of a Feather [ 1 ][ 2 ][ 3 ]

Our Swan Song
Some time ago a customer of ours lost her son. Because he had loved New York they elected to spread his ashes over the East River. If you know New York then you know that for many miles there runs a path alongside of the river used by daily joggers, roller skaters, cyclists and strollers. It was on this path that they elected to have their small ceremony and commit the ashes. As they did it, people around them stopped to observe and suddenly a large white swan appeared. It sat on the water while the ceremony was ongoing and when it was over, the bird spread it's wings and flew off. The people around stood for a moment staring at the bird in flight and then to a person they all said the same thing -- no one there had ever seen a swan on the East River before.

A. The Black Swan Box. The bird is preening himself. Interestingly, the preening has a real purpose. With their bills they weave their very small under feathers together and that's part of what maintains their waterproofing. Also with their bills, they agitate the oil gland near their tail and then spread the oil over their feathers using their bill -- again in a preening motion. I always thought that they were grooming themselves but, in fact, their ritual preening is more for their protection and survival than it is for their appearance. It keeps them from getting waterlogged. This lovely creature is swimming on a pond filled with water lilies. Inside, another water lily, painted, and the clasp is a flower. Our price: $144.90. NEW Delicately beautiful.

B. The Swan With Ruffled Feathers Box. You have heard the expression, "Don't ruffle her feathers" I am sure. It pertains to birds, like swans, who use the ruffled feathers as a protective device when they perceive themselves about to be confronted by another bird. It makes them appear much larger than they are and acts as a signal to the other bird that they will defend themselves. It is a device that is quite common among animals and birds. Cats stand their fur on end to make themselves look larger and more menacing. Elephants spread their ears horizontally to double the size of their already massive heads as a warning to the oncoming enemy. This swan is swimming midst delicately tinted leaves and blossoms done in relief as are the ripples in the water surface. The box is larger than usual, more like the size of very early Limoges Snuff Boxes, 3 inches by 3.5 inches. Retail: About $216.00. Our price: $189.90. NEW and if swans are your thing, an interesting one to add to your collection.

C. The Spread Winged Swan Box. This bird has just landed and is putting on the brakes. When they land they turn their webbed feet up to act as brakes. Actually they seem to throw their weight back and that forces their feet down into the water which then makes them act as brakes. You can tell from the impact of the body on the water that it is a landing and not a takeoff. For many years we lived on a lake in Calabasas, California and from our rear patio we could sit and watch the water fowl for hours on end. They were fascinating to watch. I had never been very fond of birds but living there for so many years I grew to love them. Walking around the lake was one of our great pleasures particularly in the spring when all of the ducks, geese and swans were parading their offspring. It was the dearest thing to watch a mother and her new babies, perhaps 2 or 3 days old, sometimes as many as 13 babies, all following in a long line behind the mother. The mother would hop into the lake, perhaps a drop of 5 or 6 inches from the shore line, and the babies would follow along behind like tiny windup toys. They never strayed and they never left the mother until they were several weeks old. Inside the box, a cattail, painted and the clasp another swan. Our price: $184.90. NEW

***From Elisabeth, one of our collectors, comes some information about swans that I did not have.  It is for all of you to enjoy and benefit from.  Perhaps you knew this, I did not. The female swan is called a PEN. The male swan is called a COB. The baby swans are CYGNETS. A cob will be slightly larger than a pen, and his bill will be a brighter orange and the knob at the base of the bill will be larger. A group of swans is called a HERD. Swans can live to an age of 40 and can weigh up to 30 pounds. Thanks, Elisabeth.

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