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You are very welcome. The Regal Swan
This is normal behavior as the cygnet will get stronger as it begins regular feeding, swimming and climbing banks. Then, the cygnet will reach the “ugly duckling” stage where its body size looks disproportionate to its legs. The cygnet will once again go through a resting phase as it’s wings are not yet developed to counterbalance it’s weight over developing leg structures. Both of these are normal growth stages. As long as the parents wait for him and continue to guard and care for him, all is well. The Regal Swan
Yes, it is normal for swan families to separate for short periods of time. It is the primary job of the mother swan to care for the cygnets while the male’s responsibiity is to oversee the territory and protect the family. The male may join the family at any time to swim and feed with them, but he will also spend some time on his own guarding the area. The Regal Swan
You are very welcome. Swans usually do not adopt a cygnet from another family. Adult swans will chase a straying cygnet from their territory and may accidently kill the cygnet in the process. Geese will take in orphans or strays, but unfortunately, swans will not. The Regal Swan
Incubation does not take place until the last egg is laid. Then, it takes between 30-45 days for hatching. Usually, swans and other birds will not waste precious energy to continue sitting on a nest of non-viable eggs. So, if the swans are still paying attention to the eggs, it usually means that there is still a chance for hatching. Hopefully, you will see cygnets soon. The Regal Swan
Excellent news Zoe. You are very welcome.
Great news. The male is probably still in the area patrolling the territory. We look forward to an update. The Regal Swan
There is always a possibility of predation (human or wildlife). However, the presence of three new swans may be a better answer. If the three new swans are juveniles (less than a year), there would possibly be a fight, but usually the established pair would win. Seeing there are three, this would be the theory that they are juveniles dispatched from their parents and they found your area. If they were adults, there would usually only be two and the third dispatched from the area due to breeding. In the event of adult swans, there would also possibly be a fight and either pair (old or new) could win the territory.
More likely is that the parents have moved the cygnets to another area away from the nest. This usually happens two weeks after hatching. Nature moves families and hastens offspring growth to protect them from predation. Since you have been getting rain, there may be better food resources in outer areas and the family has moved to take advantage of better food and habitat ( shelter) resources.
The last possibility would be predation. If something happened to the cygnets, the parents would carry on as if nothing occurred. Hormones would dissipate along with the usual territorialism that occurs during mating season. Your two swans may now be with a new swan. Unfortunately, the killing of Mute Swans is not to be occurring in NY by the NYDEC, but there is always the possibility that the killings are still occurring. Hopefully, this is not the case.
Check the area around the canal for other reed/wetland habitats and watch that mother swan is not carrying the cygnets under her wings. The swan family may still be nearby. FYI- the adult swans can move cygnets very far in a short period of time if the need for more food resources or safety is required. The Regal Swan
Swans can have 1-13 cygnets depending on species. We are not sure about the coloration you are describing as we have never seen a yellow green leg coloration unless the swans are covered in algae. The lighter coloration could be a leucistic coloration which is a variant, but quite normal. Could you please send us a photograph of the cygnets and leg coloration? Our email is Bolin.S @att.net
We will try to give you a better answer after seeing the photos. Thanks. The Regal Swan
Thank you for your kind words about our website. Glad you enjoy the information.
It is not normal for the male to be gone for long periods of time. However, are you constantly watching the nest? Could he be in the nearby area and you cannot see him? Have you not seen him for hours or days? Is there a nearby nest which is out of your sight? Are you sure you have a male/female swan pair?
These are just some of the questions that we have to consider before thinking something may have happened to him.
1. If you are not watching constantly, he may be in the area, but out chasing interlopers when you visit the area.
2. If there is another nest in the area, he could be constantly chasing and fighting with another male, be hurt or chased away. He could also be running two nests at the same time. This is a rare occurrence, but has happened.
3. Finally, if you have two females, they will still nest and lay eggs. Obviously, the eggs will not be fertile, and one of the pair may leave if a male swan becomes available. Again, this can occur, but is usually rare as most swans do pair for life unless something happens to the mate.
Hopefully, your swan will return shortly. However, the longer the separation, the odds increase that something may have happened to him. Yes, the female can take care of the cygnets on her own. The Regal Swan
More than likely, the fluid you are seeing is either water (if the preening occurs after bathing as the water is coming off the feathers) or saliva.
The swan rubs its head and neck at the top of the tail on the uropygial oil ( preen) gland. This yellowish to clear oily substance is then transferred along the swan’s body to make the feathers repel water and keep the feathers healthy. There is also some research that states the oily substance may contain antibodies to keep the feathers healthy. Other research states that the oil increases the swan’s ability to detect ultraviolet rays. This may help the swan identify other swans from a distance.
The fluid you are seeing could also be saliva as the swan transfers the oil across its body. The oil may be distasteful and the swan produces saliva as a reaction to the oil or uses the saliva to help move the oil more readily across the feathers. In any case, as long as the swan is eating, pooping and preening, these are indicators that the swan is healthy and acting normally. We hope this information is beneficial. Enjoy the swans! The Regal Swan
Swans are grazers, meaning they eat aquatic vegetation and grasses. So, unlike predatory birds as owls, hawks, etc., they do not kill and fly away with prey. So, we’re really not sure what they would be carrying while they are flying.
Furthermore, although mother swans carry their young on their backs beneath their wings, they only carry the young while the female is floating on water, not during flight. The carrying of young on the back only lasts for a couple of weeks while the cygnets are extremely small and weigh only ounces. We’re not sure there is an appropriate answer to the question of how much they can carry during flight as they typically do not carry anything while flying. The Regal Swan
You are very welcome. Please let us know how this situation progresses. The Regal Swan
It is not likely that the swans are Trumpeter swans as they are not usually found that far east of the Mississippi River region although this point is misrepresented by federal and state wildlife officials.
If the swans have a small yellow patch near the eye and bill area called the lore, they are possibly Tundra Swans as these swans have black bills.
If the swans have an orange bill, then they are Mute Swans. Now, having said this, if the swans are young juveniles that recently turned white, but their bills look black, they still could be Mute Swans.
Swans and other waterfowl will rest along the migratory path and rest in what are known as stopovers. However, there would be many more swans if this was a true stopover, so this may be a temporary resting area. If these are young birds, they may not know where else they are to go if they were separated by older adult swans or if they are parents with a younger bird, they may be allowing it to rest.
The best thing that can be done is to quietly call around to wildlife rehabilitation centers to see if they know anything about swans, especially Mute Swans. If they tell you they do not have any knowledge, tell you that you should contact your state wildlife authorities or that they will take the swans and have to kill them, then you know why we are saying to quietly ask around.
State and wildlife officials will kill entire families or flocks of Mute Swans so that the species can be eradicated in the U.S. The purpose is to free up wetland habitats so that the larger Trumpeter Swans can be introduced for Trophy Waterfowl hunting purposes.
If the swans have not left by tomorrow, we would suggest to quietly ask if someone might help. The Regal Swan
There are two reasons for this behavior.
If there is something wrong with the 5th swan, i.e., sick, injured or the runt that can’t keep up with the family, the parents will try to banish it from the family. Nature is not kind. The family or flock will banish a member if there is a possibility its state of poor health or weakness could allow predators to be alerted and follow the rest of the family/flock.
The second reason could be the age and gender of the fifth swan. If the cygnets are turning white, the parents will begin to chase them from the area as they are seen as competition, especially if this cygnet is the oldest male. The Regal Swan