Valentine’s Day and Parenthood

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love Valentine’s Day; yet I rarely write it into a story. Perhaps I’m just not comfortable enough with the romantic elements of such a day in bringing together a couple or drawing them closer still. I’ll leave that for other romance authors – and there are plenty of them!

So I will first wish you all a Happy Valentine’s Day for tomorrow, in true Western Australian style:

Happy Valentines Day with Black Swan Couple

So why black swans? Well, the birds are native to my home of Western Australia and I was lucky enough to capture the photo above last weekend. They gave their name to the Swan River in 1696 and, no matter what some of the demons in my stories say, they aren’t demons with wings. Even if they do seem to like the taste of children’s and demons’ fingers…

Black swans (Cygnus atratus) mate for life. When they’re mated, the male always carries his head higher than his female mate and they guard their nest and children together. The video below shows Dad doing his best to take care of Junior, while Mum was sitting on the nest, possibly incubating Junior’s younger siblings.

Black swan - nesting DadThey fed together for a little while, before Mum hopped off the nest and swam off for a snack somewhere else – leaving Dad to take his turn at guarding the nest.

The second video below is Mum – smaller than her mate, it’s fairly easy to tell the difference between the aggressive parenting swan earlier and the relatively calm one camped out on a floating nest of weeds. That’s what they eat, too – water weeds from shallow, fresh and salty water.

Juvenile black swanBlack swans aren’t all black. Their beaks are red and white and adult birds have a beautiful frill of white feathers along their wings. With a wingspan of up to two metres wide, those are pretty big feathers. The cygnets are fluffy pale grey and the juveniles look like their parents – but with washed-out colours. The black is grey-brown, the red not so vibrant. At five years of age, they’re completely mature – and that’s when they choose a mate.

They have a fluting, high-pitched honk that seems strange coming from such a big bird, but they’re vegetarian. Honest.

They take off predominantly from the water, because a bird of that size needs a fair bit of a run-up before taking to the air.

Swans play an important part in my upcoming release, Mel Goes To Hell – for the demons are afraid of the birds, while Melody Angel loves them. Luce braves the birds to get Mel’s attention at the end-of-year picnic, but the response he gets is not what he had in mind.