Ask the Swan Specialist

Returning surviving cygnet to parents after a deadly attack
Date: 4 August 2016

Hi there,

Hope you are able to provide some advice. Melbourne, Australia - canal linking wetland systems with few landing spots along the canal. The canal is used by swan families to travel between wetlands when juveniles are getting ready to enter the wide world on their own. Black swan parents have a nest against the canal wall around 200metres from the nearest exit point to land. Hatched five cygnets earlier in yhe week. Yesterday a massive dominant cob with pen and juvenile swam down the canal to get into the next wetland system. As he travelled through he attacked and drowned four of the five cygnets, causing the parents to flee for their own safety. The only surviving cygnet is now in care. We have learnt today that the parents gave returned and are rebuilding the nest in the same location probably getting ready to lay again. The question for us is do we try to get the cygnet back to the parents under these circunstances or do we continue to hold in care with the aim to locate the cygnet in a protected environment once old enough? The chance of more swans travelling through this canal are high hence our nervousness. Just as an aside, these parrnts have only successfully raised one brood in three years to independence - the mortality rate for these parents offspring is quite high.

Many thanks in advance for your time and any advice you can impart.