We have gotten many phone calls, visits, and e-mails about Mel and Rose, the swans on Ell Pond, so I wanted to give you an update. Our Animal Control Officer, Coral Hope, has been checking on them regularly, as has the MSPCA, and they are doing fine.
While we share your concern about the trash near their nest, and we do our best to keep the Ell Pond area clean, this is not the time for a cleanup. Some of the items were brought by the swans themselves as they built the nest, and the experts tell us it’s best to leave it for now. If their area is disturbed by humans and our scent, the swans may abandon the nest.
I would also ask you to please not feed the swans. Human food isn’t good for them, and it may attract other animals. It also may cause the swans to leave the nest, in order to get to the food, and leave their eggs unattended.
While it’s fine to watch from a distance, please give Mel and Rose plenty of space.
Update: While Mel and Rose are healthy, it has come to our attention that their eggs are no longer visible in the nest. Our Animal Control Officer, Coral Hope, told us that she observed the nest for some time today and the swans, while in the area, were not watching over it, which means the eggs are probably gone. I asked her to explain this a bit:
Do you think vandals did it?
No. I found a bird carcass (not a swan) nearby, so I suspect there could be a predator, like a raccoon or a fisher cat, in the area. It could even be a turtle. Mute swans tend to lose their eggs to predators very easily. It’s also possible that the eggs were not fertile to begin with, and in that case they would abandon them.
Have they left the nest?
Although the nest is still there, and the swans are still around the pond, if there are no eggs there is no reason to sit on the nest. There is still time for Rose to lay more eggs—sometimes they do lay a second set of eggs.
Would they move to a different location?
It’s hard to say. They did come back after losing their eggs last year because of the storm, but if there is a predator in the area they might pick a different place on the pond.
Usually they come back to the same spot—the female usually picks it, and they usually come back to the area where the female was born. They will return to the same area if they have a successful brood. That’s probably why they are coming back to this nesting area, but to keep them coming back, we have to keep a respectful distance. We can’t prevent nature from taking its course, but we can prevent humans from interfering.