WHAT Materials do SWANs Like for their NESTs.
This Topic Page will be Much Like the Subject,
BIG and MESSY…
And Filled with Memories.
February 2nd is “Ground Hog Day.”
It is a Good Time to Start Planning for your Swans Nesting.
In Six Weeks they will be Nesting.
I Realize how often I have Attempted to Shared this Information Verbally
with Folks New to having Swans..
They are Excited to Experience Swans Nesting for the First Time..
Many want to Know “WHAT Can we DO to Help the Swans ?”
or Simply What to Expect..
We have had the Fun of Visiting a Fair Number of Nesting Swans.
Some were Feral Wild – Most were Domestics on Private Property.
Some we had Visited Several Years..
If you can See what Natural Mute Swan Nests Looks Like..
Then you will Know what Materials to Gather for them.
Folks in my Swan Network have Shared their Nesting Photos.
As a Result, I have Lots of Examples.. Thanks to ALL !
To Enlarge Images – Right Click Image then Open in a New Tab.
Remember there are NO 100% Rules..
These are General Common Behaviors..
What I am Sharing are from our Swans Adventures.
In the Image Below.. the First Cygnet has Hatched..
First a Basic Time Line of the Mute Swan Reproductive Season…
These General Behaviors are Similar with all Swan Species.
When they Nest during the Year will Vary.
Late Fall – Early December
The Annual Reproductive Hormones of Mute Swans are Increasing.
Pair Bonded Mute Swans will Start Courting.
Swimming Side by Side.. Sometimes Dipping their Heads..
More Chest to Chest with Head Turning – a Display of Affection..
The Swans will Often “Snort” with Happy Affection to Each Other.
This is a Mature Cob ( 23 Years Old ) and a Maiden Pen ( 3 Years Old.)
This was their First Year as a Bonded Pair.
By this TIME YOU Need to Give the Cob more Space…
Your Cob will be Protective and Aggressive..
” NEVER Turn your Back on a Hormonal Cob ! “
DO NOT Wear White or Take White Objects when you Visit.
Never Turn Your Back on a Hormonal Male Swan
Your Cob’s Brain is NOW Controlled by his Hormones.
Swan Cobs “Strut” and “Busk”.. Threatening..!
Get TOO Close and they will FLOG !! OUCH !
Working Around an Aggressive Swan
GIVE him SPACE and Understanding..
He is doing the Job his Instincts Require.
Swans are Ground Nesting Birds..
Cobs NEED to be Fierce to Protect their Female.
Pens are MOST Vulnerable while Nesting.
Nesting Swans will Draw Attention.. The Curious Public can be a BIG Problem.
If the Swans’ Nest is Easily Viewed by the Public..
It is a Good Idea to Protect your Swans and their Nest.
And to Warn the Public to Keep a Safe Distance.
The Pen will Depend on her Cob to Protect her and their Cygnets.
DO YOUR BEST to ENCOURAGE your Swans
to NEST on your Property.
This Nest Needed LOTs of Coarse Dry Material..
Her Pond has Over Flowed at this Spot.. Draining Under her Nest.
We Spent a LOT of Time with Some of these Nesting Swans..
Some Trusted us.. Some we Just had to Respect and Keep our Distance.
You WANT your Cob to Protect their Nest !
This Mute Pen in a Public Park is Standing over her EGGs.
Her Nest is a Huge Pile of Old Tree Leaves..
Her EGGs did not Hatch..
Mating Activity will Begin in January..
Mute Swans will Mate Frequently until All their EGGs
are in their Nest and Incubation has Begun.
Early to Mid-March the Mute Swans will Select a Nesting Site..
Sometimes the Cob Picks the Site, Sometimes the Pen Decides.
This Pair of Mute Swans were Nesting in a Wild Feral Setting.
You will See the Pen EATING, EATING.
She will be Poking into Soft Mud for Insect Larva..
This Supplies Protein and Calcium for her EGG Development.
It is a Good Idea to Provide a Feed Mixture with Layer Pellets
Starting in January – And again when Nesting is Over.
Female Mute Swans Eat VERY Little while “Sitting.”
The Cob will Gather Branches and Twigs for the Base..
One Piece at a Time.. Often Tossing them Over his Shoulder.
The Cob Swings a Twig in the Direction of the Nest,
Picks it Up AGAIN and Swings the Twig Closer to the Nest.
It can be Interesting to Watch ALL this from a Safe Distance.
The Cob has Claimed this Area.. and he WILL Protect it !
The Cob will become more Protective of his Female.
She will be EATING, EATING, EATING !
The Cob below is Guarding the First EGG in their Nest.
The Pen will NOT Spend much Time on the Nest
until she is Ready to Incubate her EGGs.
Mute Swans Gather Lots of Twigs and Branches.. for Drainage.
This was a Very Cute Behavior.. “Pretty Girl” was Out on the River.
It was Very Breezy. She would Lift her Wings and “Sail” Up the River
while Singing to “Handsome Fellow.” So Cute.
She would Turn, Float back Down River.. and Repeat..
Mute Swans will Select a Nest Site near Water..
Their Cygnets will be Taken to the Water Soon after Hatching.
The Cygnets Need Lots of Insects their First Two Weeks.
Somehow, the Pens know where there will be LOTs of BUGs !
It is a Good Idea to Learn about Feeding Domestic Cygnets.
So you are READY if/when they Hatch.
Feeding Swan Cygnets
As You View these Nest Images you will see how BIG they ARE !
And the Types of Material the Mute Swans Naturally Gather.
Many Mute Swans will Select a Place with One Protected Side..
A Tree, Large Rock, Hill, Wall, etc.
A Protected Solid Wall in a Public Park.
These Sister Mute Swans are Nesting with a Fence to their Back..
Their Pond is Steps Away.
When Pens are Nesting without a Cob,
their Nests are Basically Cavity Nests.
They are Less Likely to have a BIG Twiggy Nest.
Without a Male their EGGs will Not be Fertile.. They Still NEED to Nest !
The Link Below will Provide Helpful Information.
SWAN REPLACEMENT EGGs
Female Swans without a Mature Male to Protect them are VERY Vulnerable.
As the BIG EGGs are Being Laid.. One Every Other Day..
The Pens will Preen Loosening Contour Feathers from her Brood Patch.
Her Brood Patch has Extra Blood Vessels to Transfer Warmth.
This Allows her Warm Skin to get Close to Incubate her EGGs.
And this Lines the Nest Cavity with Soft Feathers.
“Feathering the Nest.”
A Mute Swan Clutch may Vary from 3 to 9 EGGs.
Six BIG EGGs is a Nice Average.
A Clutch of SIX EGGs takes ELEVEN Days to Complete.
A Clutch of EIGHT EGGs takes FIFTEEN Days.
Healthy Swan EGGs can Support 25-26 Pounds of Weight Pressure.
We were Learning. I did Put Food Near the Nest. WRONG !
Then I Read that this is NOT a Good Idea.
DO NOT PUT FOOD by a SWAN’s NEST
Do your Best to Remove Hazards from the Nest Area.
Things like Ropes, Cords, Wires, Trash, etc.
The Swans will Rarely Poop In or Near their Nest.
If you want to Assist your Swans by Gathering Materials for them…
These Examples will Give you Ideas of what they would Collect Naturally.
If Trash is Near the Nest.. It will Likely End Up in the Nest.
Once the Pen Starts to “SIT” Full-Time.. Incubation Begins.
Make a Note of this Date.. ! !
Timing Swan Eggs to Hatching
The First Two Feral Mute Swan Nests we Hoped to Visit and Observe in 2006
were Flooded by Snow Melt and Heavy Spring Rains..
The Gathered Reeds Acted as a Raft and their Nest Floated.
Until the Rising River became Swift and the Nest was Swept Away.
Their Second 2006 Nest was OUT on an Old Crumbled Bridge Pier..
The River Flooded their Nest after several Weeks..
In the Spring of 2007, the Swans’ Luck Changed and so did Ours.
The River did Rise within a Foot of Ruining their Nest Again.
We had been Visiting with “Handsome Fellow” and “Pretty Girl”
for Close to Three Years.. Several Times a Week..
It was Wonderful how much Time they Allowed us to Spend with them.
Thanks to Digital Photography, we were able to Document this Adventure.
We went to their Remote Nest along the River every Three Days..
Watched Quietly Sitting within Feet of the Nest..
Their Nest was HUGE..
I was Intrigued with their Relationship.. Watching the Cob being Protective.
Listening to their Muttering Vocals.. Seeing their Tender Interactions.
The Cob would Position himself between Us and his Pen.
The Tender and Polite Behavior between them was Surprising.
I Learned a Great Deal during these Visits..
The Pens Incubates the EGGs at 101 Degrees.
The Mute Cobs can Protect and Keep the EGGs Warm,
But they CAN NOT Incubate.
These Beautiful Swans …. No Words can Express.
It was ALL Brown and Muddy – No Greens when they Started to Nest.
With each Passing Week the River Plants Helped to Hide their Location.. Almost.
I Calculated when the Nest might Mature.. I was Off by Two Days..
As we Walked into the Nest Site we were Greeted by the Swan Family.
Three Tiny Cygnets had Hatched from their Clutch of Six EGGs.
After 30 Minutes along the River “Pretty Girl” headed back to the Nest,
her Tiny Cygnets close behind.. It was Nap Time.. SO Cute !
We did not get to see them at the Nest after that Day.
The Other Three EGGs.. ??? Were Missing ???
During the Next Visit..
We Noticed that “Handsome’s” One Wing was Broken.
“Handsome” had Protected his Family from Someone !!
His Injury was Consistent with being Hit by a Boat Oar.
There were So Many Perils Living Free and Feral.
We were Not the Only People Watching the Swans.
All the Joy was about to become a Series of Sadness.
Before the Cygnets were 2 Weeks Old, All Three would be Taken.
Weeks Later we were Told a Person Removed the Cygnets.
All the Folks Along the River were Disappointed. Most Enjoyed the Swans.
By Mid-July we had to Remove “Handsome Fellow” from the River.
He was Injured Several Times.. We wanted to Save him.
We had Lots more to Learn.. ! !
And No Idea where all this would Lead.
The Following is an Example of Poor Nesting Material.
“George” would Annually Gather a Nest
in the Corner of the Family Herb Garden.
This Year the Nesting Material was Mostly Dry Leaves and a Few Twigs.
“Gracie” had been Laying EGGs.. Burying them while she was Off Eating.
The Area had Several Days of Heavy Spring Rain… Soaking the Nest.
The Dried Leaves became Soggy Mush.
The Clutch was WET and Very Blue.. Likely Spoiled. ( They were. )
The Swans’ Owners kept Hoping the EGGs would Hatch.. 15 Days OverDue.
We Assisted in Removing the EGGS !
THEY SMELLED TERRIBLE.. Surprised they DID NOT EXPLODE.
In 2014, Heavy Spring Rains Ruined their EGGs Again..
The Nest was Getting Soggy and Mushy..
On Day 42, we Stopped to Help Remove the Smelly EGGs.
I Suggested Next Spring the Family Give their Swans
a LARGE BUNCH of Ornamental Grasses from their Landscaping.
Allowed to Stand and Dry Over the Winter..
Coarse Ornamental Grasses make Good Nesting Materials.
THE HAPPY NEST BUILDER.
This Older Cob, “George” was a Favorite to Visit..
While Selecting these Images I Smiled and Cried.
The Spring of 2015 he had Lots of Dry Material for their Nest.
One Warm Spring Day, I Sat in a Safe Place and Observed “George”
as he Happily Worked with the Long Dried Grasses Left for him to Use.
It was Wonderful to see how Happy “George” was Organizing the Stems.
His Mate, “Gracie” was Out on the Far End of their Pond.. EATING…
I Watched “George” Working for an Hour. He was So Happy.
It was Time to Go. I Enjoyed this Show..
As we Prepared to Leave…
I Noticed there was ONE BIG EGG in the Nest !
We Stopped again when “Gracie” was Sitting Full-Time.
Now we Watch and Wait.. Sigh !
“George” was Everything a Mute Cob should be.
In 2015, “George” was 28 Years Old..
He Lived to be 30 Years Old.. I Miss “George.”
In 2015, we had Three Mature Mute Swans on a Lovely Country Pond.
All Rescued in 2009 & 2010 when Young Cygnets..
NestMate Sisters “Brooke” & “Spring.” And Unrelated “Meadow.”
We were Very Lucky this Threesome was Happy Together.
We wanted to Encourage the Swans to Nest on the Pond’s Island.
Over the Winter Months we Collected Lots of Fallen Tree Debris.
The Swans Watched us for Weeks as we Put the Branches and Twigs on a Pile.
In Early April we Started to Add Dry Ornamental Grasses.
The Swans Got the Hint !! and Did Start to Work All this into a BIG Messy Nest.
“Meadow” was Surprisingly Tolerant of our Being Close to the Nest.
“Brooke” is Usually the First to Nest. “Spring” Two Weeks Later.
BIG SMILE >> There are EGGs in the Nest !
NOW “Meadow” was Protecting the Nest Area !!
Time for us to Observe from a Safer Place.
This Spring the Sisters Decided to Nest Together.
Most Years they Gathered Separate Nests..
“Meadow” was Patrolling, Busking, Macho BIG and Doing his Job.
Incubation is 37 Days.. Not Much Happening..
Watching the Girls Turning their EGGs.. ALL Wings and Necks..
This was the First and LAST Time they Shared the Same Nest.
The Girls Learned it is Better to have “Your Own Nest.”
They were Very Patient with Each Other..
And, I did Enjoy having this Photo Opportunity..
The Girls took Turns Leaving the Nest for Short Breaks.
“Brooke” Left the Nest on her 42nd Day.. She did Not Return.
Sweet “Spring” had TWO More Weeks to “Sit.”
Most of their EGGs had been Stolen by Raccoons.
Several were Unfertile and had Started to Rot.. Smelling Awful !
Several of the Replacement EGGs made from Real Swan EGGs were Missing.
It was Time to End “Spring’s” Nesting for this Year.. So she would Start to Eat.
I Walked Slow toward her and Watched her Leave the Nest.
She went into the Water for a Break. I had Tossed Chopped Green in the Water.
She was Busy with the Floating Vegetables as I Removed the Last Three EGGs.
By the Following Morning.. the Nest was Closed.
“Spring” did not Return..
In a Few Days, we Gathered all the Nest Material for Compost.
Old Nests are Great Places for Mice, Snakes, Insects, etc.
The Old Nest Materials will Rot and Mildew..
It is Better to Start with New Nest Materials Next Year.
The Pond below had Two Females Living Together. No Male.
The Pens have their Nest Very Close to the Pond..
They were Gathering Dried Flower Bed Debris..
By the Time her EGGs were ALL in the Nest,
The Plants were Growing.. to Surround her.
This Nest was Gathered by a Pen that did not have a Male
to Protect her Nest.
Each Time she Laid an EGG it was Stolen.
The Pen can NOT Protect or Sit on her EGGs until ALL are in the Nest.
With a Brood Pair, the Cob will Guard the EGGs until ALL are Laid.
His Body Can NOT Incubate the EGGs..
This Proud Cob is Protecting their EGGs.
SIX BIG BEAUTIFUL EGGs. It is TIME to Incubate.
Several Times a Week we would Bring a Handful of New Material
for her Nest. “Nest Gifts” Ferns, Twigs, Dried Grasses.
This gives the Pen Something to Do.. while she is “Sitting.”
ONLY Do this if your Swans Trust You !
OR Put your “Nest Gifts” in a Place your Pen can See them.
“Meadow” was 13 Years Old.. Summer 2022.
The Mute Swan Nesting below is on a Pile of Straw.
By the End of her Time the Nest was Very Damp and Mildewing..
None of her EGGs Hatched.
These Trumpeter Swans had Straw for their Nest.. None of their EGGS Hatched.
Over and Over Straw OUT in the Weather had Poor Results.
The Straw Nest Below was Sheltered from Rain.. and Cygnets HATCHED !
In the Spring – Summer of 2009,
we had a Number of Heavy Rain Storms.
Our Pen SAT Tight on her EGGs.. Keeping them Dry.
She Spread her Wings a Bit so the Rain Ran Around the Cavity.
Her Nest had Good Drainage and the EGGs were Dry.
Pens Count their EGGs before Leaving the Nest
for a Quick Break.. and Again when she Returns.
The Young Pen below was Living Alone on her Pond.
She was Using this Stand of Dried Ornamental Grass to Create a Nest.
This Mature Black Australian Cob liked this Raked Pile of Fall Leaves..
No EGGs, No Mate .. Just an Instinct to “Sit.”
Black Australian Swans Nest Twice each Year.
They will Frequently use a Shelter to Nest.. ( Needs to be Secure at Night.)
Using Clean Straw is Reasonable since it will Not be Getting Wet..
These Black Swans did Hatch Cygnets..
This Pen’s Nest is Perched on a Fallen Log.. Great Drainage.
This is the Remains of a Swans’ Nest we found Along a Creek.
The Swan Family had Left by the Time we Learned of them.
Semi-Wild Mute Swans Nesting on a Large Community Lake.
Different Swan Nests from the Same Large Lake..
Another Mute Swan Nest from the Same Large Lake..
This Nest was Gathered on the Bank of a Private Pond.
Lots of Plant Material to Gather for her Nest.
Beautiful Mute Pens “Sitting.”
This is a VERY COOL SHOT… THANKs Nick !
These are Mute Swans on a Large Private Mountain Lake.
I Love to Snap Photos..
and I have Learned many Interesting Things as I Review these Images.
These Pens had Unfertile EGGs. No Cygnets.
Look Closely.. there are Tiny Cygnets.
Swan Photos have been Share from Far and Wide.
The Swans Below Placed their Nest Next to Ornamental Grasses.
The Pen had a Solid Wall behind her.. and was Close to the Pond.
We Set-up this Temporary Fencing to Help Protect a Nest Area.
There were Numbers of Foxes and People
that Moved Freely in this Semi-Public Place.
Occasionally People Walking their Unleashed Dogs..
I was able to Find this Wooden Snow Fencing at Tractor Supply.
We Collected a Variety of Twigs and Dried Ornamental Grasses.
We Fed the Swans Close to the New Fencing..
Lots of Photos were Taken on Cloudy Days.. Terrible Color..
The Swans seemed Comfortable by the Nest Site.
For Days we Observed “Handsome” Working inside the Fencing.
The Swans were Mating, Mating, Mating.
We were Sure our Plan was Working.
A Busy Cob Arranging the Nest Materials.
We were Enjoying Watching the Swans at this Early Stage of Nesting.
We Expected to See EGGs in the Nest Soon..
One Spring Morning the Swans were Gone.. !!
The Rogue Swan, “Jezebelle – Harmony” did not want to Nest by the Pond..
There were Spring Golf Carts Buzzing About, Trees were being Cut Down.
Large Trucks were Rumbling by Several Times a Day.
She had Lived Feral and wanted a More Private Place.
Our Best Guess… the Swans Walked Down the Small Stream
that Drains the Fine and Private Place Pond.
We Found the Swans. They Decided to Nest along a Local Creek.
These were Two of the Swans we had Visited for Years along the River.
“Handsome Fellow” & “Sweet Harmony” ( aka “Jezebelle” )
They had Lived Free and Feral.. They had Taken their Wild Life Back.
We Tried to Keep them Safe.. Now we had Little Control.
“Handsome Fellow’s” Previous Female “Pretty Girl” had been Shot
at the Beginning of the 2008 Canada Hunting Season..
More and More I Hear Swan Owners Planning for a Floating Platform
for the Swans to Nest on.. Pens are SO Vulnerable while Nesting.
SWAN FLOATING NEST Box-Platform
There are Many Types of Swan Nests.
I Added some Dried Hydrangea Blooms just for Fun.
The Bushy Growth of Ornament Grasses make Good Camouflage.
“Meadow” had Fun Play-Hiding under the Tall Grasses..
LOCATION is Also a Factor for a Swan Nest.
Their Nests are Close to Water.
Along a Creek or River Flooding is a Problem.
We Watch the Swans Living Wild-Feral Lose most of their Nests.
These Swans were Flooded Twice in Spring 2009.
They Surprised us by Gathering a Third Nest.
Adding MORE Mud Under the Twigs..
“Harmony” laid Four Eggs for her Third Early Summer Clutch.
One was Stolen… Three Hatched July 14-15th..
Two Cygnets Died in the Nest.. The One Surviving Cygnet is our “Meadow.”
The Nest was SO HIGH.. that it Took the Tiny Cygnet quite a while to Climb
UP into the Nest the Very First Time.. “Harmony” Called him from the Top.
“Handsome” Encouraged and Guided his Little Legs from below.
While the Swans were Out on the Creek with Little “Meadow”
We Added Mulch Type Material for a Soft Easy Ramp.
One of the Adult Swans would Check the Nest
before the Cygnet Waddled Up for his Naps.
Each Time we Witnessed the Swans Returning to their Nest,
One of the Adults would Approach the Nest and Check for any Danger
before Allowing the Cygnet to Scamper Up.
The Swan Family Used the Nest for Four Days and Nights..
The Fifth Morning, “Handsome” Stood for a Very Long Time
Studying the Nest.. Watching.. Listening.
He did not Allow the Family to Return.. Instead Closed the Nest.
I have Witnessed Several Cobs do this.. Check the Nest One Last Time.
Place a Few Twigs in the Cavity.. and Leave for the Season..
Reminds me of Closing Up a Summer Home and Leaving.
The Swan Family headed off along the Creek..
“Thank You” to ALL the Home Owners along the Creek
Who Allowed us to Visit with the Swans along their BackYard Water’s Edge.
These Swan Sagas are Long and Winding..
In the End.. We had to Rescue Little “Meadow” at Five Weeks Old,
a Snapping Turtle Severely Damaged his One Foot.
In November 2009, “Sweet Harmony” was Shot..
“Handsome Fellow” Disappeared at the End of January 2010.
We Never Learned his Fate.
“Meadow” was in our Care at our Home for Nine Months.
There are Many Chapters to our Swan Stories from then to Now..
YES, Back to Water, Water Everywhere ! AND Nest Examples.
Spring Rains Often Spoil EGGs.
Another Reason EGGs are Spoiled.. COLD Spring Weather !
Snow and Freezing Temperatures when they Nest Early.
Out in the Elements.. Many EGGs Freeze and Crack.. DISCARD These.
When Cygnets Hatch in Cold Weather, they Need a Dry Nest
for their Dam to Keep them Warm.
Tiny Cygnets can NOT Thermo-Regulate..
They Need the Warmth of the Adult Swans.
It is Wonderful when the Swans are Safe.
With Your Planning and some Luck..
This is the Goal of Nesting Swans.. Tiny Cygnets..
Thanks for Allowing me to Ramble about Some of Our Swan Adventures.
I am about Finished.
This Topic Page is Being Uploaded with Images we have Gathered
Over the Years we were OUT and About Visiting Swans.
THANKS to ALL who Shared their Swans with Us..
PA SwanLover Linda M. Sweger February 2023