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Swan homecoming

Created date

April 27th, 2010

Every March 19, the swallows return to California s Mission San Juan Capistrano. And not long after, the swans return to Fox Run in Novi. The community has even [caption id="attachment_11391" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Shiraz and Merlot swim in their pond by Fox Run s Belmont Clubhouse. (photo by John Carter)"][/caption] celebrated their return at special happy hours. After all, the birds have names made for toasting: Shiraz is the female; Merlot is her mate. They belong to Dave Mercer, Fox Run s senior facilities manager, and they live at the Erickson community in Novi from spring through fall or until their pond near the Belmont Clubhouse freezes over and they ve no place to swim. Then, like some of Fox Run s human residents, they head south but only as far as Mercer s 10-acre property in Belleville. The cold weather doesn t bother them. At his place, says Mercer, they spend most of their time lying on a snow bank. A second pair of swans lives at Mercer s year-round. He brought the swans to Fox Run five years ago in a successful effort to rid the campus of Canadian geese. Once swans set up their territory, they run everything else out, he explains. Nothing else can stay on their pond. He hadn t named them, so Fox Run s residents did it for him. One thing led to another, Mercer says. Black swans are native to Australia, Black Swan Vineyards is in Australia, and one of its wines is a Shiraz-Merlot blend. Swans are graceful, but not necessarily friendly. Merlot, like all male swans, is strongly protective of his mate. Merlot will get between you and the female every time, Mercer says. When Merlot isn t around, Shiraz will lie down and let Mercer pet her. Mercer resorts to trickery when it s time to capture the swans, crate them together, and transport them to his house. He hides himself and sends the grounds crew out as a decoy for Merlot to follow, then as Merlot walks by, Mercer reaches out and grabs him. Once Merlot is in the crate, Shiraz will walk right in to be beside him. Mercer hopes Shiraz will lay a clutch of eggs this spring. If so, a group of cygnets might swim beside their mama by summertime. It would be a first for Fox Run, and another reason to celebrate.