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Pets & Animals: Swan couple, Sudbury couple share ‘a lot of joy’

A pair of swans, lovingly called Cecil and Olivia, have been welcome backyard guests at Ted and Linda Paylor’s Sudbury home for the past couple of decades
Swans Cecil and Olivia are seen on Lily Creek in Sudbury.

A pair of swans have been welcome recurrent guests of Ted and Linda Paylor for the past several years, with the human couple lovingly naming the avian couple Cecil and Olivia. 

“They bring us a lot of joy, they really do,” Ted told “It makes me feel good to be around them.”

Ted has Parkinson’s disease, which he said can get depressing at times, so it’s nice to have twice-annual (spring and autumn) visits from Cecil and Olivia to look forward to and brighten his days.

Ted Paylor calls over two swans on Lily Creek he has named Cecil and Olivia. Tyler Clarke /

“It feels good to know that some wild animal has that much trust in you,” he said of the pair. “It’s nice to have something that makes you feel good.” stopped by the couple’s home off of Lily Creek in Sudbury on April 2, but Cecil and Olivia weren’t there at the time. We headed upstream with Ted, where the pair of swans were found swimming alongside a flock of ducks.

“Cecil! Olivia!,” Ted called, prompting the swans to swim right up to him.

They’re not shy, he said, adding that they’ve even taken to using their beaks to knock on his porch window for visits.

One of the swans that has been visiting local man Ted Paylor and his wife, Linda, for the past couple decades is seen on Lily Creek. . Tyler Clarke /

Cecil began visiting the Paylor couple approximately 20 years ago, at which time they initially thought he was a female and named him Cecilia. 

After a few years, a female swan joined Cecil, prompting them to realize he was a male and would be better suited by the name Cecil. His partner was named Olivia.

Although numbered leg bands have identified Cecil as “Big Foot,” and Olivia as “Partner,” originally from Lake Simcoe, the Paylors will forever know them as Cecil and Olivia.

They’re a cute bird couple, Ted said, adding that Cecil hasn’t been able to fly since at least the time he began appearing in their backyard, and that Olivia looks after him in his old age.

Local man Ted Paylor is pictured in his backyard, which overlooks Lily Creek, where his and wife Linda’s swan friends Cecil and Olivia have been visiting them for the past couple of decades. Tyler Clarke /

“When they walk down to the creek, he’s a little wobbly and she makes sure she’s with him, and when he eats she stands guard,” he said. “She really takes care of him.”

Olivia had the Paylors worried last autumn when she didn’t show up alongside Cecil, and Ted said that when she didn’t show up again this spring they’d written her off.

Swans typically mate for life, according to The Trumpeter Swan Society, and only seek a new partner when their partner has died or breeding has been unsuccessful. 

To their relief, Olivia ended up joining her mate last month, and has been attached to his hip ever since.

“They probably split up for a year and she decided he was worth keeping,” Ted said with a chuckle. Having recently seen the pair mate, he added, “They’re definitely together.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for