As our Widewater Juvenile swan (nicknamed Silvo) may be leaving us in a few weeks time, here is a photo record of his development and a short explanation of swan family life
by Jo Procter
You may have noticed a change in the behaviour of the Widewater Resident Swan family recently. Long standing residents will be well aware of this change but new residents and visitors may not so I though it may be interesting to give a short explanation.
As a breeding pair, our Swans must prepare for the next breeding season. Their cygnets, now grown up juvenile swans, must leave home to make way for the next batch.
Swans are amazing parents: they fearlessly guard their young and nurture them until maturity. But at around this time a change in this relationship occurs as they gradually break the parental ties so that their young can leave the "nursery" and fly away to start their new lives in the wild.
You may have noticed that there is more distance between parents and our juvenile as they spend more time separately and they are beginning to display aggressive behaviour, nipping and biting him with their wings raised in aggressive display. Although sad to see, it is quite normal behaviour as the juvenile must learn that he has to leave home.The aggression increases over time until the juvenile gets the message and flies away. They will drown him if he doesn't go!
Recording past behaviour patterns of this pair, they have kept their cygnets until late Feb/Mar. So it may still be some time before the juvenile finally leaves.We shall see. Milder weather conditions may affect the timing.
The juveniles of local breeding pairs usually fly to the River Adur to join the Adur flock. There are 20-30 Swans on the river. A flock of swans are young swans who stay together for 3-4 years when they become mature enough to find a mate and leave to find their own breeding territory. This is the cycle.