Imprudent Mankind

Sushma Malhotra
I love to go for a walk regularly. Most of the time my husband gives me company. There is a Kissena park in our neighborhood where we enjoy going and perceiving nature. We experience and capture all kinds of weather phenomena and seasonal changes just by going there regularly. Kissena park is located in Flushing, Queens, New York. Kissena Park is a 235-acre greenspace constructed along the historical route of Kissena Creek—which, buried over time by development, is now represented above ground by Kissena Lake itself and nearby marsh habitat. This is a beautiful park that has green grounds, trees, children’s parks and a lake. Kissena Lake is one of New York City's natural water bodies, and has been through several man-made transformations, the latest of which was completed in 2003 to bring the lake back to a more "natural" condition.
Besides the natural surroundings, a fascinating thing is the aquatic birds in the lake, significantly, ducks, gees, seagulls that fly in and out of the lake occasionally. But the most distinguished feature is observing a pair of swans. We usually notice ducks, geese, and seagulls and in a group of five to ten. Sometimes they have baby ducks, chicks or baby seagulls together. It’s only the pair of swans that brings emotions and a topic to discuss in the park. In 2022, we observed the swans piling leaves and twigs to make a big nest on the grassy ground in one of the areas around the lake. We realized that the female swan was going to lay eggs. Last year between late March to April the female swan laid seven eggs in almost one week.

Out of curiosity I started to research about the swans’ pregnancy and their practice of laying eggs. I learned unlike other birds a swan lays only one egg at a time. I learned that a swan needs to hatch her egg at least thirty-five to forty-five days. I along with other morning walkers waited to see the cygnets coming out of the nest and sitting on the mother Swan’s back, side, or following her in the lake. Each day the thought of seeing the swans with cygnets forced us to be persistent and regular for our walks.

We started counting the days and passing each day was becoming harder and harder for all of us. All walkers and joggers in the park used to gather around and discuss the possibilities of the cygnets. After a few days we noticed there were five eggs and no cygnet yet. Everybody was talking about the missing eggs. Then someone mentioned that maybe racoons ate them. What a sad thing to learn! We continued going for walks and checking on the eggs. We observed one of the swans sitting on the eggs consistently and the other swan in the lake searching for food. April month led into May! Then we noticed a sign of Mother's Day on the fence with the hope to see cygnets by Mother’s Day. May also passed and the swans continued to sit and hatch but unfortunately one by one the eggs continued disappearing. The rumor was that someone had been stealing their eggs. True to the rumor no egg was hatched and there was no cygnet for us to watch following the swans in the lake. Very disheartening and depressing! Very sad for us to watch! What would have been going through the hearts and minds of the swans. Mute and unable to speak! How mean can human beings be? We noticed that the swans had been around the nest they had made to lay and hatch their eggs. Eventually we saw both the swans only floating in the lake water.

Now, in 2023, the winter is getting over and we are experiencing changes in the weather. As the weather changes we observe the change in the surroundings, plants, trees and the birds movements. We continued our walk in Kissena Park. We see ducks, geese, seagulls and our pretty pair of swans. I was hoping to see the swans laying and hatching eggs this year too. During the last week of March we noticed the female swan laid an egg and then eventually she laid four eggs in total. The walkers started to stop, look at the swans, take pictures and wish to see the eggs being hatched.

Whenever we went for our walk we observed one of the swans sitting on the eggs. Regular walkers in the park started crossing their fingers to see all the eggs hatched and cygnets in the lake with the swans. What a shocking thing to observe the next week that all four eggs were missing from the nest. There were rumors that someone stole all the eggs from the park. Now whenever we go for a walk we see both the swans around their nest as if looking for their eggs. They look sad, scratching, pulling twigs and pecking their own built nest. Silent, mute, birds unable to express their pain! Last year we thought that the weather was not favorable for hatching faster and then someone stole the eggs. This year, the weather in April was warm enough to support the swans to hatch their eggs for thirty to forty days. Who stole those eggs and why? Who can bring their eggs back for them to hatch? I wonder what they must be feeling and saying to each other.

Now we go for a regular walk and see those two swans alone in the lake floating in the water or outside the water; resting with their heads down.

Why will somebody steal eggs from the mute helpless swans? What an inhumane, inconsiderate, and brutal act!

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