Ask the Swan Specialist

In Response To: Re: Black Swan cygnet rejected (The Regal Swan)

Hi Stacey

If the cygnet was older and the oldest male, this would be normal behavior as male swan parents will chase older swan males from the habitat so there is no breeding rivalry.

However, in this case, it seems like something else is occurring. Swan parents will chase sick or injured young from the rest of the family to keep the illness from spreading or being tracked by a predator which also realizes something is wrong with one of the members.

The cygnet will not survive if it keeps getting chased from the habitat. Stress induced illness or injury can occur from the constant harrassment. Again, parent swans will chase and even try to kill a cygnet that is sick or injured. Predators will also track an orphaned cygnet and attack it.

We would suggest you contact the wildlife facility so the cygnet can be captured and examined for illness or injury. The cygnet should be treated if ill or injured and then raised with other waterfowl at the facility until it is well and old enough (approximately 6-8 months of age) to be released into another safe secure habitat. Do not return it back to your habitat as the parents will still fight with the young bird to remove it from their habitat.

We once had a similar situation with a cygnet that was eating and acting normally, but the parents kept chasing it. We intervened and found that the cygnet was running a very high temperature and was sick internally. After a week on antibiotics, we thought the infection had cleared only to have the cygnet die. Upon necropsy, it was determined that the cygnet had died from egg sac peritonitis (the egg sac ----think of something like an umbilical cord in humans) did not seperate upon hatching from the cygnet causing severe infection an eventual septic death. We could not see the cause of the infection, but realized that there was an infection based upon the high temperature and white blood count. However, the swan parents knew something was wrong with the cygnet and tried to keep it from the rest of the family.

This recognition that something may be wrong by swan parents leads us to strongly suggest an intervention to capture and examine the cygnet in your case. Please let us know how this situation progresses. The Regal Swan
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