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Spring fling

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO Getting to know you.

JIM COLLIGAN PHOTO Getting to know you.

What better way to experience the first afternoon of spring on Shelter Island than to come upon a pair of mated-for-life mute swans gliding on a pond.

Mute swans, described by Cornell Lab of Ornithology (CLO) as “the exotic … elegant bird of Russian ballets and European fairy tales” are seen all over the Pacific Northwest, the Great Lakes region and the Northeast.

They are beautiful but can cause problems, with “aggressive behavior and voracious appetites” that can “disturb local ecosystems, displace native species, and even pose a hazard to humans,” according to the CLO.

But viewed from a safe distance, the grace these birds display is a perfect complement to the beauty of a spring afternoon.