Tremayne Sirmons has 40 pet swans. Technically they don’t belong to him, but he does take responsibility for making sure they’re well taken care of.
Sirmons is one of seven regular volunteers with the Lake Eola Swan Habitat Field Team, a city-organized group that helps educate the public about Orlando’s treasured creatures and keeps an eye on their wellbeing. You can spot the volunteers by their red vests with a swan emblem on the back.
According to the City of Orlando, the first swans arrived at Lake Eola in 1922. It’s now home to various species of swans, including Trumpeter Swans, Black Neck Swans, Whooper Swans, Royal Mute Swans, and Australian Black Swans.
The month of February is when swans begin searching for mates, Sirmons said. And around Mother’s Day, you’ll be able to see the adorably fluffy grey cygnets waddling through the park.
Sirmons is a drafter at a civil engineering firm in Oviedo and says volunteering with the swans is a welcome break from the hustle of life. He grew up with many pets — including a racoon, an iguana, and an owl — so volunteering with the swans was a natural transition.
Sirmons likes to visit and feed his feathered friends several times a week. He says it’s extremely important for people to know that swans shouldn’t eat bread because it can be dangerous to their health. Instead, he suggests sharing a head of lettuce or bird seed. And don’t forget to keep your dogs on leash, Sirmon says — swans have been injured by pets in the past.
Some of the swans have been given names and are part of Sirmon’s inner swan circle.
“Trailer is my favorite. He is always excited to see me and that makes me feel good,” he said. Swan couple Jack and Jill is also fond of Sirmons and wait patiently for a snack whenever he stops by.
If you’re interested in volunteering with the swan team, email EolaHouse@CityofOrlando.net or stop by the Eola House and fill out an application.