LIVE CAMERA FEED - View the Swans on the Lake
Louis and Serena are overwintering at a farm in northern Illinois for the winter and will return in late March, 2013. Although Mated Mute Swans live outdoors in the midwest during the winter, they must have an open water source year round. Mated Mute Swans need to take a drink of water in order to swallow their food, and since the village's pond freezes over during the winter, our swans spend the winter at a farm with open water.
The village purchased Louis and Serena, called Mated Mute Swans, in 1994 in response to the growing Canada Goose population on the municipal center pond and grounds. Breeding age pairs of Mute Swan will not tolerate Canada Geese in their breeding (nesting) area, which can cover several acres of water.
To ensure a continuous supply of food for their young, a successful nesting pair becomes more protective after cygnets are hatched. Geese are a challenge to their food supply, therefore, the swan will chase them away. Geese eventually tire of being chased off the pond waters and fly to other more hospitable, unprotected ponds. It takes three years for swan to become full-fledged goose chasers.
Mute Swan are the hardiest of all waterfowl, mate for life, and live to be 10-15 years of age in captivity. There are normally five to seven offspring every year hatching around Memorial Day.
Another benefit of the swan program is that domesticated Mute Swan will help to maintain an ecologically balanced pond. Mute Swan consume and recycle undesirable plant life; both filaments algae and sub-aquatic. They spend most of their time in the water as opposed to geese which graze on lawns and then return to the water. During the summer months, when water plant life is thriving, the swan will receive a portion of their diet from feeding on these aquatic plants. Since food availability varies with each water area, it is best to provide a supplemental ration. Each adult swan will consume approximately one pound of food per day which is provided in a self feeder. You may notice that the swans wash each mouthful of food down with a sip of water.
The adult male is called a "cob" and is typically larger in size than the female. The adult male will also have a larger black "knob" at the base of his beak. The adult female is a "pen," and the young swans are cygnets (pronounced sig-net). The cygnets hatch as fluffy balls of gray down, weighing about 7 ½ ounces. The pen keeps them with her during the first few days, after which the cob will take the first-hatched out for swimming lessons. The second week of life is the most dangerous for the cygnets. They may fall prey to such predators as pike, snapping turtles, foxes, or crows.
When the cygnets are 4-10 days old, it is time to pinion their wings. This procedure is quick and painless and prevents the development of flight feathers. This prevents the cygnets from flying off, and is also used to control the number of domesticated swan getting into the wild.