Forum Replies Created
September 22, 2020 at 6:55 am in reply to: Male mute letting his mate defend their territory from challengers #142229
We have not seen anything in literature regarding this issue, but that doesn’t mean that it does not exist. We just have not seen it. Yes, there are several reasons for this behavior:
The male has already been in a scuffle, lost the battle and is extremely frightened and avoiding another fight. He could been injured and trying to recover before engaging in a future battle. There is also one other reason that could be in play. During the summer months, usually in July, but could be later, swans moult. This means old feathers drop out and new feathers are grown. At the time of moult, the birds cannot fly. Each parent will moult at a different time so that at least one parent can fight and fly to escape if necessary. This might be the behavior you are seeing. Once the male’s feathers are ready for flight, you may see him engaging with the other male. On another note, most male swans (and most animals) may significantly injure or even possibly kill another male, but they usually do not try to injure a female. Although this can happen, it may be by accident as the male is larger. Remember the old adage, “a man should not hit a woman”, even applies in the wild because a female is more valuable to increase the flock/herd as she can mate with another member if something happens to her mate and she can be taken as a mate by a stronger rival member.
Male swans can also severely injure smaller cygnets that get in the way if a scuffle occurs or they enter someone else’s territory. This why one parent must always be able to fight and protect their young. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan
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
A hobble might work, but you need to get this cygnet to an experienced avian/waterfowl veterinarian immediately. This immediate intervention is critical in the survival of the cygnet as any delay could mean that the cygnet may never be able to walk or climb up and down banks to access water. Only assessment by an experienced veterinarian will determine if this cygnet can be helped. The Regal Swan
Unfortunately, this is normal swan behavior. The one way to intervene is to get someone with wildlife rescue expertise to try and capture the new family and relocate them to another pond further away from your area. This relocation may be difficult if you live in a state where wildlife officials want to kill all Mute Swans in order to introduce thd larger Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl hunting.
If you cannot get someone to capture and relocate (you need to inquire very cautiously so as not to alert wildlife officials to your area), then there is another alternative. You or someone need to get a boat–Not a kayak or rowboat, but a large enough boat to get between the two families and slowly chase the new family away from the island and back towards the direction that they came. You will need to be very cautious so that the male swan does not hurt anyone in the boat should he become defensive and that he or his family does not get hurt. That is the reason for a fairly large boat. You may have to harrass him consistently to get him to move his family which could take a couple of hours and even days. Understand that he us also trying to find a safe territory for his family as he may have been threatened and removed from his original habit. We are approaching September, which is the time for migration, and many swan families are trying to teach their young how to fly for migration and they need a fairly large area for flying. If your area has a clear area for takeoff and landing, this may be the reason why the new family appeared. If the new cygnet family can fly, harrassment may cause them to leave quicker as the parents will take them away. If the cygnets from the new family cannot fly, the male may be looking for another area for better food resources or safety from predators. The key to all of this is to find out why they left their area. If you can tell me what area you live (state and city), we might have a contact in your area that can help. The Regal Swan
The best thing to do in this situation is to do nothing. Let your male swan live in peace on his pond for the remainder of his life.
Male swans typically do not re-pair with another female swan, especially after having spent most of their lives with a previous mate. This is an individual attribute, but usually holds true with most male swans.
The problems with introducing another mate besides him not accepting it are:
1. His age. You do not know when nature will take its course and he is at an age that makes it harder to determine exactly how many more years he might have. So, if you get him a mate and he doesn’t live much longer, you will be right back where you are now trying to find another mate for the female and hope they pair. His fertility will certainly be affected by age so there are no guarantees that he will be able to produce cygnets.
There are U.S. laws regarding the breeding of Mute Swans as federal and state wildlife officials have been trying to kill the species for years. Wildlife officials want to kill this species to free up habitat to introduce another species, Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl hunting. Therefore, you may or may not be able to import a mute swan without a permit or breed the swans without a permit. You will need to have all cygnets pinioned, permanently rendered unable to fly by a licensed veterinarian at 1-3 weeks of age. You will also be responsible for all cygnets including finding a new home for them as fights will ensue every year during mating season. Mute Swans can have 1-8 cygnets a year which means you will eventually need to find a new home for many of them. All of this may mean that you become a breeder under the law requiring a permit and other regulations.
2. You will need to build a pen, enclosed top to bottom (so no predators can climb into or dig under the pen–must be half in water and half on land with zero entrance into pen–no steep banks, must have feeder inside) so that the new mate can get accustomed to the male swan, you and the new environment. She must stay in this pen for approximately 3-6 weeks to ensure there is no aggressiveness on the part of either swan, that she does not wander and get herself killed because she is not familiar with the new environment and the presence of predators. No matter if you get new swans, they will still have to remain in a pen to acclimate them to you, the male swan and the habitat.
3. If you introduce a female or another pair of swans, you risk them being chased by him from the habitat and into a predator’s area.
4. If the new female does not get along with him, she could chase him out of the habitat because she will be stronger and younger than him. If he were to prevail, he could seriously injure or kill her.
5. If you get another pair, during mating season, there will be fights and he could be seriously injured or killed by the new swans as they will be stronger than him. In nature, strength prevails and he will be displaced.
You are only setting up your male swan to much stress by introducing any new swan. Your pond is and has been his home and it is not fair to him to have to defend it every day against new swans or have him displaced. You certainly do not want to introduce another male as a pal because one or both will be injured or killed.
The best thing to do is just let him enjoy his habitat free from stress and you enjoy him through his older years. I hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan
- This reply was modified 2 months ago by Swan Expert.
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