Mates reunited?

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  • #141700 Reply
    Nancy Staab

    I live on a small lake in CT, and since I moved here 2 years ago, there has been a beautiful pair of swans on the lake. Last year they raised 4 cygnets.

    Early this past spring while kayaking, I saw them building a new nest together, not far from the nest they used last year. A couple of weeks later, I spotted them – not at the new nest, but at the old nest – and the female was sitting on the nest. I paddled over to the site of the new nest and saw a single egg there, apparently abandoned.

    Not long after, one of the pair went missing, without any trace that I’m aware of. I never saw the remaining swan sitting on the nest, and certainly never saw any cygnets – so sad. The remaining swan has been alone for the past several months and I’ve been hoping he/she would find a new mate.

    Yesterday, we had visiting swans on the lake for several hours. They appeared to be a family who had flown in – 2 adults and 4 older cygnets. The lone swan was in their vicinity and seemmed to be hanging out with them.

    This morning I discovered, to my joy, that the lone swan is no longer alone! I’m guessing that one of the visiting adult swans stayed behind when the rest of the family flew back to wherever they had come from. I saw the two swans swimming together, at a distance initially, then closer together. Then they started dipping their heads into the water in perfect unison – beautiful!

    Could it be that the original mate has returned, after having bred with another swan? I would love your take on this situation!

    #141725 Reply
    Swan Expert

    Hi Nancy

    This could very well be the old mate. Swans are known for their fidelity, but there have been reports of a male swan running two nests at the same time with two different mates. This may be nature’s way of ensuring offspring, if there is a problem with reproduction in one of the swans. Although this could be the old mate, there is still a possibility that this is a new mate or even one of the swan’s (now adult) cygnets. Yes, swan parents and siblings can and will mate with each other if another mate is not available. In-breeding between birds is not genetically problematic as it is in mammals. The Regal Swan

    #141880 Reply
    Nancy Staab

    Thank you for your reply!

    I wish I knew if the formerly lone swan was male or female! That would definitely help in understanding what has gone on in this situation.

    Do females ever leave and go in search of another mate if breeding is not going well with their original mate? Is it common for an adult swan of either sex to leave their family once the cynets are able to fly, which seems to be what happened here.

    Also, can you shed light on the two nest situation and the abandoned egg in the first nest?

    Many thanks – your expertise makes me even more in awe of these beautiful creatures!

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