Henry's death ends a feathered threesome
By KAY BLUNDELL - The Dominion Post, 4 March 2009
A quirky love triangle that has entertained bird fanciers has come to a sad end.
The feathered threesome of Henry the swan, his partner of 24 years, Thomas the goose, and his female mate, swan Henrietta, has been shattered by the death of 30-year-old Henry at Waikanae Estuary Scientific Reserve last week.
Kapiti Bird Tours operator Mik Peryer named the trio, which captivated bird lovers.
Henry spent 24 years with Thomas before Henrietta flew into the estuary about six years ago and captivated Henry, resulting in a prolific late-life breeding season.
Henry had never mated before, Mr Peryer said, but, enamoured with his younger mate, made up for lost time and fathered 68 cygnets in six years.
Rather than suffering from rejection, Thomas welcomed the chance to play uncle, made an occasional play for Henrietta, and the three became inseparable, much to the delight of visitors to the estuary.
Fears were held for Henry a couple of months ago when he failed to mate during the usual season and Mr Peryer and residents became concerned when he went missing last week.
He was found dead in a creek last Wednesday, hidden by a willow branch and with his head tucked under his wing. Thomas and Henrietta were nearby and seemed to be aware of his death.
`They looked lost without him," Mr Peryer said. "I think old age caught up with him he was worn out. It is the end of an era, the breaking up of such a special eternal triangle.
"It is such a sad day with the passing of such a well-known bird. He was famous on the Kapiti Coast, around New Zealand and worldwide."
Fellow bird lover Eileen Thomas had watched over the trio's families for six years and said she would miss Henry's honking welcome every time she arrived at the estuary.
"Thomas and Henrietta look so sad now I do not know what they are going to do."
The remaining pair swam around together looking bereft, with Henrietta letting out a low, mournful cry every now and then and Thomas gently consoling her. "I just hope she doesn't fly off to find another mate, leaving Tom on his own."
Residents plan to place a black commemorative boulder at the lagoon to mark the passing of the quirky menage a trois.