Reproduction: Let's Get it On...


   Although Mute Swans usually meet their mate around age two, they do not start breeding until age three or four.  The reproductive rate of swans is more or less constant. Each pair usually lays one set of eggs each season. The number of eggs produced is typical of the species and is probably governed by inheritance and environmental factors.  The Mute Swan has a mean clutch of between five to ten eggs, but the average is around 6.   

   The male Mute Swan participates to a large extent in raising the family.  This process usually takes at least six months and therefore it is important that a Matingfirm bond exists between both parents in the family.  To ensure this, courtship is a slow process.  After this process has occurred, the male gathers nesting material and builds a shallow mound for the nest.  It is often large – up to six feet in diameter – and made of reeds and grasses.  The Mute Swan can also build a semi-floating nest extremely close to water if they choose to.  While the cob is constructing and guarding the nest, the female feeds enormously.  Green food builds up the reserves needed for egg production and for the period of incubation when she seldom leaves the nest.

   Swans’ eggs are amongst the largest in the bird world.  The Mute Swan’s eggs are almost equally rounded at both ends and aren’t the conventional ‘’egg-shape”.  Their eggs are also pale green with a chalky covering.

   To ensure that the cygnets will all hatch out together, incubation usually starts after the clutch is complete.  For the Mute Swan, it has been reported that only the female incubates the eggs, although occasionally the male may sit on theMute on Nest nest while she is absent, guarding them.  The incubation period is said to last about 36 days. Hatching of the eggs tends to coincide with the period in which the food supplies and weather conditions are favorable.  Hatching is announced by faint clicking’s from the egg and takes approximately two days. After they have made their way of out of the egg, they accept the first large moving objects they see as their parents.  These are typically their parents but there have been cases where they will readily accept other swans, birds or even HUMANS as their parents. 

   Cygnets on BackMute Swans usually carry their cygnets on their back.  The obvious advantages to this are that the cygnets can sleep, warm and dry among the feathers without having to move ashore.  When they are in this position, they are also out of reach of most predators.  Both parents participate, but the female usually does more carrying than the male.

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