Organisation - April 24, 2020

Swan matches personal record

Roelof Kleis

As has been the case for some years, a swan couple is brooding in the pond near Forum. The couple has made quite the effort: their nest contains no less than eight eggs.

Fences surrounding the nest to keep passers-by at bay © Roelof Kleis

It takes patience and luck to catch a glimpse of the brood. A breeding swan doesn't take frequent breaks. Thursday at lunchtime, however, mother swan decided to take a stroll, allowing a few lucky passers-by a glimpse of the nest, which contains eight large grey-ish eggs. Isn't that a bit much? A record, even?

Personal record
No. At most, it is a personal record. The couple produced a spawn of eight last year as well, and all the eggs hatched. But, eight eggs is a bit much, an internet search reveals. According to the Netherlands Society for the Protection of Birds, a swan would typically produce five to seven eggs. Wikipedia claims the average is six, and the website puts the amount at four to seven.

zwanen broeden.2.jpg

'Eight eggs is above average', Jeroen Nienhuis of the Sovon bird organisation tells us. Nienhuis is also a member of the Netherlands Mute Swans Working Group, and, as such, is knowledgeable on the subject of swans. 'On average, swans will lay 5 to 6 eggs. But, eight eggs is reasonably common, I would say, in about 10 per cent of the nests. For a record, you would have to have double digits.'

What the current record is, Nienhuis is not entirely sure. 'But I think it is around 14 to 15 eggs, too many for the Forum pond, which isn't all that large. The swan production in the Forum pond has a sad track record, with quite a few mishaps over the years. With last year being an all-time low, when all eight youngsters were eaten, presumably by a large pike.'

This sparked a discussion as to whether the pike could not best be removed from the pond. Although this is possible, the pike will remain where it is, ecologist Wiemer Wagelink tells us. From an ecological perspective, removing the pike as top-predator from the pond’s ecosystem is unwise. ‘Swans must learn to protect their young. These are probably young swans. It’s a learning curve.’