What do swans do when their mate dies?

Answered by James Kissner

Swans are known for their strong pair bonds and when a mate dies, the surviving swan may go through a grieving process. Just like humans, swans can experience feelings of loss and sadness. They may exhibit behaviors that indicate mourning, such as vocalizing more frequently or swimming alone in a desolate manner. It is truly heart-wrenching to witness the sorrow of a swan losing its lifelong companion.

The duration of the grieving process can vary from one swan to another. Some may recover relatively quickly, while others may take longer to overcome the loss. It is essential to understand that swans are individuals, and their unique personalities can influence their response to such a loss.

Once the grieving period is over, the surviving swan has a few different options. Firstly, it may choose to stay in the same area where it lived with its mate. Swans are territorial birds, and they establish a home range on a particular stretch of water. In this case, the surviving swan may continue to inhabit the same territory, albeit on its own. It may take some time for the swan to adjust to being alone, but eventually, it may find solace in its familiar surroundings.

Alternatively, the surviving swan may decide to fly off and search for a new stretch of water to live on. Swans are capable of long-distance flight, and they can navigate across vast distances to find suitable habitats. In this scenario, the swan may explore different bodies of water until it finds a new location to call home. It is important to note that during this journey, the swan may encounter other swans and potentially form a new pair bond if a compatible mate is found.

Lastly, the surviving swan may choose to rejoin a flock. Swans are social animals and often congregate in large groups during certain times of the year, such as during migration or wintering periods. If the solitary swan feels the need for companionship, it may decide to integrate itself back into a flock. Joining a flock not only provides social interaction but also offers protection and a sense of belonging.

Now, turning to the lifespan of swans, they are generally long-lived birds. The average lifespan of a wild swan can range from 10 to 20 years, depending on various factors such as habitat conditions, predation risks, and availability of food. However, some swans have been known to live well into their 30s and even 40s. Captive swans, which are protected from many of the natural threats faced by wild swans, can live even longer, sometimes surpassing 50 years.

When a swan loses its mate, it can experience grief and exhibit behaviors that indicate mourning. After going through the grieving process, the surviving swan may either stay in the same area on its own, fly off and find a new stretch of water to live on where a new mate may join it, or rejoin a flock. Swans are long-lived birds, with an average lifespan of 10 to 20 years in the wild, but some individuals can live much longer.