Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Brownish swan rejected by parents
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 23 October 2016
In Response To: Brownish swan rejected by parents (Janie)

Hi Janie:

This is normal behavior as the cygnets are being told to get lost prior to the next nesting season. The entire family may fly off during the winter migration if they can fly (not pinioned-captive swans have one wing surgically amputated so they cannot fly).

The coloration is normal. Mute Swans are Mute Swans, however, swan keepers name two color variants. The Royal Mute-which is the one you are describing as brown or taupe color is the normal coloration. This coloration has the cygnets taupe in color at hatching and then they turn white as they age. By age one, they should be totally white. As adults, their bills will be reddish orange in color and their feet and legs black.

The second color variation- a leucistic (genetic) coloration is known as the Polish Mute. Centuries ago, someone tried to interbreed swans until they procured a white swan, but the color variation was not albino, but a leucistic coloration which has the adult swan beaks turning orange and their feet and legs are taupe colored. The Polish Mute cygnets are white at hatching and remain the same color throughout their life. The only change upon reaching adulthood will be the bills tuning orange.

More than likely, the Royal Mute (taupe colored cygnet) is a male and the male bird wants him out of the fold quickly so there is no inbreeding or competition between the female parent.

If the cygnet can fly, then he will leave the family shortly to find his own habitat and mate. If the bird cannot fly (captive-pinioned), you may need to find him a safe good home. This is going to be extremely difficult in Michigan as the Michigan DNR has and is currently in the process of eradicating (killing) all Mute Swans in Michigan so they can clear habitats to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl Hunting purposes.

So, realistically, keep an eye on the family, especially at night as that is when the Michigan DNR clubs or decapitates the swans (so taxpayers do not know that the birds have been killed in their area). Cygnets if in the nest are stomped to death. It is something that we and many others have been trying to stop, but the increased monies brought in by trophy hunting permits is overriding any concept of conservation.

The best thing to do is to bring no attention to your swan family and hope that they make it back next year and live another year on the nest. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Brownish swan rejected by parents -- Janie -- 20 October 2016
Re: Brownish swan rejected by parents -- The Regal Swan -- 23 October 2016