Swan Aggression

This article features a selection of photographs illustrating examples of swan aggression. Images were sourced from my archives. These photographs were all captured during the same visit to LaSalle Park in Burlington Ontario. All of the images were captured handheld using an OM-D E-M1X fitted with an M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 zoom and an M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter.

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800

Often when we observe swans we are lulled into thinking that these large birds are always calm and majestic.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800, cropped to 3417 pixels on the width

They can be quite territorial especially during mating season. Swan aggression is usually limited to some brief pursuits across the surface of the water.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-800, cropped to 3417 pixels on the width

On occasion these pursuits can cover a fair distance as we can see with the following 11 consecutive photographs. Swan aggression is a noisy affair with wings and feet smacking on the water and a lot of water sprayed into the air.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height

In the ensuing mayhem birds can inadvertently intrude into the space of other swans not involved in the conflict. This can cause the other birds to flee, or sometimes join in the attack.

When fights break out they can be vicious causing injuries or even death as swan aggression often involves one bird seizing another by its neck.

OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height
OM-D E-M1X + M.Zuiko PRO 40-150 mm f/2.8 with M.Zuiko MC-20 teleconverter @ 300 mm, efov 600 mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-640, cropped to 3210 pixels on the height

Swan aggression is often signalled by a bird curling its wings upward as it is swimming towards another bird. If the other swan that it is approaching does not swim away, an attack display and corresponding pursuit can erupt.

Technical Note

Photographs were captured hand-held using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Images were produced from RAW files using my standard process. Crops are noted where appropriate.

How you can help keep this site advertising free

My intent is to keep this photography blog advertising free. If you enjoyed this article and/or my website and would like to support my work, you can purchase an eBook, or make a modest $10 donation through PayPal. Both are most appreciated. You can use the Donate button below. Larger donations can be made to tom@tomstirr.com through PayPal.

As a reminder to our Canadian readers, you can get a special 5% discount when ordering Tamron or Rokinon lenses and other products directly from the Amplis Store.

Word of mouth is the best form of endorsement. If you like our website please let your friends and associates know about our work. Linking to this site or to specific articles is allowed with proper acknowledgement. Reproducing articles, or any of the images contained in them, on another website or in any social media posting is a Copyright infringement.

Article and images are Copyright 2020 Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation of any kind is allowed without written consent. If you see this article reproduced anywhere else it is an unauthorized and illegal use. Posting comments on offending websites and calling out individuals who steal intellectual property is always appreciated!

2 thoughts on “Swan Aggression”

  1. Amazing images Tom. They aptly illustrate what this great m4/3 gear can produce in the hands of an accomplished photographer. Your work pretty much removes any doubts about whether the m4/3 system can provide a “good enough” image, and far beyond that.
    Stay safe.
    John

    1. Glad you enjoyed the images John!

      Every photographer needs to assess their needs and use gear that is the best solution for them. After almost 18 months, I can say that our Olympus M4/3 gear more than meets our specific needs.

      Tom

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *