Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 3 July 2007
Thanks for the question. It is highly unlikely that a raccoon ate the cygnets. Raccoons, opossums, skunks, snakes and foxes will eat the eggs. Foxes and other predators such as coyotes, bobcats, domestic dogs and cats will eat the cygnets as will turtles, egrets and other large birds. More than likely, either a fox or similar predator or a human raided the nest.
Although it is probably true that the eggs are not going to hatch, leaving them at least another 2 weeks is not going to harm the pen. If both parents are still protective, they may know something we don't. If in 2 weeks nothing hatches, we would advise to go ahead and carefully remove the eggs from the nest. To ensure that swans nor people are injured during this process, make sure that at least two people enter the nesting area. One is for protection so that the pen does not go after the person taking the eggs as well as being blindsided by the male. In all likelihood, the parents will eventually get tired of watching the eggs and will probably leave the nest before you have to intervene. Even so, you will still need to remove the eggs.
Once removed, take the eggs to the opposite side of the pond/lake and place them in the water. This is the safest way of disposing of a rather smelly and potentially dangerous situation. The eggs can explode especially if left in a hot container such as a plastic garbage bin. Predators such as turtles and other animals will eat the eggs once they are in the water. We hope that this information is beneficial. The Regal Swan.