Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: How much time do Swan mates spend with each other daily?
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 3 June 2014

Hi Gene:

Yes, we have researched swans, specifically Mute Swans for more than 16 years. Some of our veterinarians have worked with them for more than 40 years. The question you have asked involves several components:

1. The age of the swans
2. The gender of the swans (males will bond with males when there are no females and vice versa)
3. Individual attributes of the swans
4. Time of the year
5. Successfulness in breeding
6. How many breeding seasons have the swans participated

The younger the swans can determine if they need to cling to each other or they need to have some space until they learn how to be parents.

Usually, if all of these factors are stable, then most swans will stay around each other throughout the year. By staying around, we would mean at least within the immediate 50-60 yards. However, the time of the year also makes a big difference. Swan hormone levels increase drastically during mating and nesting season. For obvious reasons, the more the swans are together, the more successful in mating and producing offspring. During mating season, the swans will mate every other day for approximately 2 weeks until all eggs are produced. Eggs are laid every other day until the female reaches the number of eggs that she is programmed to produce. So, the swans will stay much closer than 50-60 yards.

Once mating is completed, both swans will stay together to build and guard the nest and await the hatching of the eggs. Once the cygnets are hatched, the male’s major responsibility is to protect the family. However, at this time, he may “patrol” the habitat and leave the immediate area of 50-60 yards, but will return immediately if he hears any distress calls from his mate or the cygnets.

Once the cygnets are old enough to fend for themselves (8-10 months of age), the male swan will chase the young birds from the habitat to begin the breeding process once again. During this time, the female and male may separate more often, going around the habitat to rest and recover from the nesting season. They may separate from each other going as far opposite of the habitat as possible. Even swan mates can get into spats and if one is upset with the other, the space between them can be significant until amends are made.

Although swans will mate throughout the year (specialists believe this is the way that they promote and protect the bonding process), all swan species (except the Australian Black Swans-which produce two broods a year) will only produce a brood once a year. So, again the mating may ensure bonding. Having said this, the concept that swans mate for life is totally an individual and species trait. Some swans will mate for life while others will take on another or several mates throughout their lifetime. The Whooper Swan species has a 6% divorce rate. So, usually swans will mate for life, but not always. We hope that this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

How much time do Swan mates spend with each other daily? -- Gene -- 3 June 2014
Re: How much time do Swan mates spend with each other daily? -- The Regal Swan -- 3 June 2014