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Welcoming the baby Bewick’s

It’s success for our captive Bewick’s at Slimbridge.  Our nesting pair are now the proud parents of a clutch of cygnets. Within hours they were spotted in the water, already eager to explore the world.

A cygnet nursery

Now that the eggs have hatched, it’s common for the swans to add material to the nest, to keep the little cygnets warm at night.

The cygnets show their independent spirit right from the start by feeding themselves. Although they also take vegetation brought to the surface of the water by their parents, especially when they’re still so small.

It didn’t take our clutch long to discover their sense of adventure – an intrepid nature is an advantage when you have to undertake a lengthy migration. Within hours the young swans were off swimming with mum and dad keeping a close eye on them.

While the female is mostly responsible for looking after the young, it’s the male that defends the territory.  In the wild this means driving off predators like arctic foxes.  At Slimbridge – watch out if you get too close!

The art of nesting

But it wouldn’t have been possible without several weeks of hard work – involving nest building, egg laying and incubating. 

In the 360-degree video below by Flight of the Swan’s media volunteer Steve Flanagan, you can see the female turning the eggs, something that has to be done regularly each day to ensure the chicks develop evenly inside the egg. 

During the incubation of the eggs, around 30 days, both the male and the female take an active role, with the male taking over if the female needs to leave the nest to feed.

Our Bewick’s are a month ahead of their arctic cousins, but we’ll keep you posted on developments from Russia, so keep checking back for updates.

And don't forget to sign our petition that demands protection for the Bewick's Swans and for their valuable wetland habitats.