“They give me such joy, they give me meaning to the day.”
This is a quote from Fiona Sinclair, an elderly Vancouver citizen, who, after a recent global news story, has been affectionately labeled as the ’swan whisperer.’
Fiona is the unofficial caretaker of the mute swans at Lost Lagoon. She has been monitoring the swans daily for the last eight years.
“[The swans],” explains Sinclair, “have been a tradition in the park for 125 years.” Queen Victoria gave them to the park in 1889.
Sinclair loves the attention the swans receive from locals and tourists, but is worried about the bread and other edible items offered up to her white-winged friends. “Bread is literally empty calories and it’s harmful, in that they think they have all that they need; they’ve got a full feeling, they don’t think they need anymore so they ignore the good food.”
The good food, supplied naturally by the lagoon is in great demand because of the high numbers of other local and migratory birds that use the Lagoon. To supplement the swans diet, the Parks Board creates a healthy mixture of food consisting of three equal parts of crack corn, protein pellets and wheat. They give this mixture to Sinclair to distribute. Each swan ingests about 7 pounds of this mixture each day.
Sinclair was also pivotal in the recovery process of a swan named Tristan. Tristan was left wounded by a knife attack he sustained from a man with mental issues. At the time of the incident, Tristan wouldn’t let any of the park staff near him to care for his injury. The only human contact he accepted was Sinclair’s. She cared for the wound and helped Tristan back to health.
Citizens of Vancouver can sleep well knowing that Sinclair is taking care of the four royal birds.