Swans Through the Seasons
Alas! It seems Mama and Papa Swan aren’t to be proud parents this year, in spite of ideal nesting conditions and their faithful care of eggs and nest during the incubation. Of her 5 eggs that she retained as of April 24th, 3 went bad over time, and the swans removed them from the nest, one by one. She has 2 left but it’s well past the normal deadline of around 42 days. We suspect the unseasonably cool weather is responsible for preserving these last two to this point.
There was no interference of any sort with their 5 eggs, so we know it’s just one of those difficult-to-explain things where nature isn’t always predictable.
On the good side, because of the care taken with protecting the nest and surrounding area the swan couple enjoyed peace through the entire nesting season – Papa sat on the eggs regularly to give his mate time in the lagoon, and when she returned the two would chat away to each other while doing the little “housekeeping” chores like adding twigs and grasses to keep the nest in good condition, or preening, dozing and on occasion, “making hearts.”
Both swans seem totally content, and today for the very first time, Mama left the nest for almost two hours (while Dad sat on those two eggs). This is the first occasion she stayed away from the nest for any length of time. She swam along to a favourite spot where she could come up on shore for a good stretch and preen.
She’s gotten thin, a normal consequence of the long time on her nest, she’s a bit frayed and the edges of her wings are almost bare from constant contact with the nest but what a change a couple of hours can make!
She was SO HUNGRY – a generous helping of some of the Parks Department Special Mix for swans disappeared as fast as her bill could move – she ate, and ate, and ate, and then ate some more. Then it was time for a REALLY serious preen. She set to with a vengeance, head-to-foot.
A still photo couldn’t do justice to Mama Swan’s beauty makeover efforts, so I’ve posted a video of her gymnastics to achieve her goal!
It was a much tidier and proud Mama Swan that returned to the water to supervise Papa on those last two eggs. She would have been delighted with the exclamation from a 4-year old boy who stood alongside his Mom watching her; “oooh, she’s beautiful!”