New swan makes Manzanita Lake her home

University's swan to be named by public voting, poll closes Nov. 15

10/29/2013 | By: Patrick Harris  |

Swans Meet
Following the passing of Olivia, the University of Nevada, Reno's elegant white female mute swan, the waters of Manzanita Lake welcome its newest resident. The new female swan joins the University family and shares the lake with the male swan, Zeus. A campus-wide vote will decide her name.

New swan on Manzanita Lake

Swan in Box

Swan out of Box

Into the Lake

vote for new swan's name

Swan Ad

The Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) and the Nevada Wolf Shop are asking students, faculty, staff and members of the community to partake in an online poll to name the new campus dweller. Voting ends Nov. 15. Potential names include:

  • Anita: for Manzanita Lake, the jewel of the University
  • Athena: Greek goddess of intelligence, skill and wisdom
  • Hera: Greek goddess of family and marriage, and wife of Zeus
  • Marilyn: for Marilyn Monroe, who stayed in Reno during her last film, "The Misfits"
  • Sarah: for Sarah Winnemucca, a prominent female Native American activist and educator

A popular student location for recreation and relaxation, Manzanita Lake was constructed on the University campus in 1911, and has been home to swans since the 1930s. There are generally two swans at the lake, and past swans have included black Australian swans Boris and Natasha, and white mute swans Olivia, Zubb and Zeus.

"The swans have provided a touch of elegance and campus romance," John Lilley, former president of the University, wrote in 2005.

Olivia has been on campus since 1989 and passed away October 2013. Not only did she share the lake with her mate, Zeus, but the two had four cygnets, or baby swans, in 2010 and two in 2011.

"Olivia and Zeus took to each other right away," William Borges, a grounds maintenance worker for the University, said.

When the two swans first met, they touched beaks. This is a courting behavior known as billing, and is the formation of a strong monogamous bond, which few animals create.

Unlike geese or ducks, swans are not local to Nevada, therefore they require extra care all year long. Led by Assistant Director for Ground Services Marty Sillito, University caretakers have watched over the swans throughout the years by making nests for them to live in and lay eggs, as well as providing extra food during the winter months. Sillito was also responsible for procuring the new royal mute swan from a 10-acre fowl farm in Auburn, Calif.

"We took her to the lake and opened the box near the water's edge," Sillito said about the new swan's arrival. "She made herself right a home. Zeus was in the vicinity and was watching her with a careful eye. He appeared to be puffing his feathers up in more of a macho manner as opposed to an aggressive pose. The two swam around each other in circles and gradually got closer and closer. She was taking in her new surroundings and pecking for food at the lake's bottom."

The new swan is two years old and will produce cygnets when she turns three. Living at the lake, she will eat grasses and plant material and mate for life.

"As far as I can tell, it's been a successful acclimation," Sillito said. "Although the place is new, she's in an environment conducive to her needs. We hope she will enjoy her new home."

Feel free to stop by Manzanita Lake to welcome the newest swan to the University family.



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