5 min read

Hero Swan Dad Steps Up To Raise His Babies After Mom Passes Away

"He’s just a great, great father to them. It’s very adorable."

Over the past year, swans have become a frequent sight at the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts. And one swan couple decided the park’s lagoon was the perfect place to raise a family.

“In early April, we first noticed they had a nest along the pillars by the lagoon,” Emma Feeney, marketing and events coordinator for the Esplanade Association, told The Dodo. “Then shortly after, we saw that the female swan had begun to lay eggs. A total of nine eggs had been laid by early May, and about 10 days ago the cygnets began hatching.”

Bird and wildlife lovers gathered around the nest to watch as seven cygnets hatched and were cared for by their doting parents.

“They’ve kind of become celebrities in Boston over the past few weeks,” Feeney said.

Swan couples, who typically mate for life, share parental duties during their babies’ first few weeks, taking turns feeding, protecting and keeping their cygnets warm. However, tragedy struck the Charles River last Monday, when the mother swan fell ill and passed away.

“Animal Care and Control received a call with concerns over the female swan’s health, as she seemed to have been bobbing her head and couldn’t stand up on her own,” Feeney said. “But by the time animal control arrived at the park, unfortunately, the female swan had passed.”

“The male swan could be seen across the lagoon in their nest with the cygnets tucked underneath his wings,” she added.

Swan dad snuggles his babies
Twitter/Charles River Esplanade

The city of Boston’s veterinarian examined the wild mother swan, and couldn’t determine a cause of death.

“The swan’s death broke many of the hearts of the community here in Boston, where we see people visiting the swans’ nest on a daily basis — it’s become part of their daily routine,” Feeney said. 

Without his mate, the male swan has jumped into his role as a single father, doing everything he can to raise his babies right.

“They seem to be doing well,” Feeney said. “You can spot them in the esplanade lagoon swimming together, with some of the babies riding along on his back.”

“Geese will swim by them and you can tell that the papa swan is in full force, protecting the cygnets,” She added. “You can tell that he’s just a great, great father to them. It’s very adorable.”

Thanks to their caring dad, the seven cygnets will have an excellent chance at growing up strong and finding mates of their own one day. And, hopefully, in the years to come, they too will return to the Charles River to start families of their own.

But, for now, the swan dad is giving the people of Boston someone to root for: “They’ve been through so much, but they seem so strong,” Feeney said.

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