The Blackfoot Trumpeter Swan population continues to grow, with more swans returning to the watershed this year and cygnets hatching from two nests. We had a record number of five pairs attempt to nest this spring. Three of those failed before or at hatching, from as of yet unknown causes. The other two pairs hatched five cygnets each! Unfortunately, one of those pairs lost four of their five within the first week, likely due to predators. But the remaining cygnets seem to be thriving. It is amazing how fast they grow, and every day’s growth makes them safer from potential predators.
While it’s disappointing to see nests fail and cygnets disappear, it’s very common for most birds. In fact, in most bird species over half of all nests fail, and that can rise to over 75% for some waterfowl. The majority of those failures are due to predation, but weather, disturbance, and lack of food can also cause nests to fail.
A pair of swans may nest for several years, laying many eggs and hatching multiple cygnets, before enough survive to reproduce and keep the population stable. When a population is very small and trying to reestablish, such as in the Blackfoot, any loss can seem significant. Fortunately, with each year that swans have nested here, we’ve had cygnets survive and return to the valley. And this year we have at least two swans paired up that were likely hatched in the Blackfoot 2 or 3 years ago!
Remember that our swan release will be in early September this year. We are still in the process of finalizing the date, and as soon as it is known we’ll share it via the website and through emails.
Thanks again to everyone who sends in sightings. It really helps to increase our knowledge of the swan population and locations.