Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Older Swan: No eggs this year
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 17 May 2014
In Response To: Older Swan: No eggs this year (Debbie)

Hi Debbie:
We are assuming she still has a mate. However, even if she is a lone swan, females can still produce eggs during the nesting season due to hormones, even though the eggs would obviously be infertile. If all of the above is still the same as in past breeding seasons, has anything changed?

Is she acting normal? Eating, pooping, bathing and preening? We ask this question, because she can become egg impacted (very serious) condition and needs to be treated by a veterinarian quickly if any sudden change in behavior or feeding is observed.

Are there predators, opossums, raccoons, snakes, minks, etc., that suddenly have appeared and might have kept her from going back to the same area or wanting to nest? Are there new changes to her habitat, i.e., new construction, someone moving into the area with children, dogs, cats, or has there been any clearing of vegetation, lowering or raising of water levels, etc.? Any sudden changes to a habitat can interrupt the breeding process including the extreme weather conditions that we have been experiencing.

If the swans tried to nest because of warm temperatures after a cold snap (thinking it is springtime), and an extreme cold snap suddenly interrupted the warm temperatures, the birds may have gotten confused and eventually, stopped trying to mate or nest.

If all of the above scenarios are not the problem, then age could certainly be a factor. We have seen swans in their teens still producing eggs and cygnets, while others reaching the age of 13-14 may produce one or two eggs, but no viable cygnets. We also know that if the swans produced eggs and cygnets at a very young age (2-3 years of age), then, the birds tend to stop producing eggs and cygnets at a relatively younger age. Swans in great settings can live up to 30 years of age. The longest surviving swans in both wild and captive settings that we are aware were 26 years of age. So, theoretically, if the swans produced eggs at an older age (4-5 years of age), then it is possible that they might be able to produce eggs or cygnets up until the late teens. We have seen swans in their late teens still producing eggs and cygnets, so age or the individual attributes as well as habitat features may all enter into the equation as to whether eggs and cygnets can be produced at an older age.

Even though your swan did not produce anything this year, there is nothing to say that she might not produce again next year. If she does not produce again next year, then it would be safe to assume that her egg laying days are over. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Older Swan: No eggs this year -- Debbie -- 17 May 2014
Re: Older Swan: No eggs this year -- The Regal Swan -- 17 May 2014