Swans have been a common sight along the Charles River Esplanade in Boston, Massachusetts, in the last year. And one swan couple felt the lagoon in the park was the ideal spot to start a brood.
“We first observed them having a nest along the pillars beside the lagoon in early April,” Emma Feeney, marketing and events coordinator for the Esplanade Association, told The Dodo. “Shortly after that, we noticed that the female swan had begun to produce eggs.” By early May, nine eggs had been placed, and the cygnets began hatching approximately 10 days ago.”
Bird and nature enthusiasts gathered around the nest to see seven cygnets hatch and be cared for by its adoring parents. “They’ve almost become superstars in Boston in the last few weeks,” Feeney added.
Swan couples, who normally mate for life, share parental responsibilities throughout the first several weeks of their kids’ lives, feeding, protecting, and keeping their cygnets warm. Last Monday, however, tragedy hit the Charles River when the mother swan became unwell and passed away.
Sylvia J. Zarco was on the Charles River’s banks that night, watching the swan family, when she saw something was amiss with the mother.
“She was sleeping, protecting her cygnets like the wonderful mother she’d been for the last week. However, she was unable to lift and support her head. She tripped when she stood, couldn’t swim straight, and all she tried simply propelled her backwards “Zarco posted a message on Facebook.
“Dad would never abandon her. When the cygnets went swimming, you could see how conflicted he was between remaining with, supporting, and defending his mate and safeguarding their young.”
“She had already perished by the time Boston Animal Control (thank you Brad) could get to her help,” Zarco continued. “But Dad must have known it already, for even though he sat across the lagoon from where she lay, every time someone or something threatened her, he’d charge across the water to passionately protect her.”
Dad didn’t move as Brad approached her, pulled her up out of the water, and tenderly covered her in a blanket. He sat contentedly at the nest, their cygnets safely nestled under his wings.The veterinarian for the city of Boston examined the wild mother swan but was unable to pinpoint a cause of passing away.
“The swan’s passing devastated many people’s hearts here in Boston, where we see people visiting the swans’ nest on a daily basis – it’s become part of their daily ritual,” Feeney explained.
Without his mate, the male swan has taken on the role of a single parent, doing everything he can to nurture his children properly. “They appear to be doing well,” Feeney observed. “You can see them swimming together in the esplanade lagoon, with some of the infants riding on his back.”
“Geese will swim past them, and you can see the dad swan is guarding the cygnets,” she continued. “You can see he’s a wonderful, wonderful parent to them. It’s really cute.”
The seven cygnets will have a good chance of growing up strong and finding their own spouses thanks to their attentive father. And, ideally, they will return to the Charles River in the future to start their own families.
Yet, for the time being, the swan dad is giving Bostonians something to cheer for: “They’ve gone through so much, but they look so strong,” Feeney added.
Papa Swan carrying his babies on his back 🥺❤️ @wbz @EsplanadeBoston pic.twitter.com/SqEQkKkV9s
— Anna Meiler (@AnnaMeiler) June 4, 2021