Out of five eggs, one cygnet emerged from its shell on Longboat Key.
Longboat Key’s swan population has grown by only one after Greta the swan’s eggs hatched on May 1.
Only one egg out of five produced a viable cygnet, said swan keeper David Novak. Chances are slim the other eggs wind up hatching as they didn’t hatch in the 24 hours after the first one, but Greta is still waiting to see if more will join the first. This is still the first cygnet in two years for Longboat Key, as none of last year’s eggs remained viable after a rainstorm.
“There's a temporary situation where she still believes the eggs are going to hatch and they're not, and so she's not paying attention to the degree she should,” Novak said.
Unfortunately, Novak is considering when it is right to chase Greta out of the nest and remove the eggs, to try to get her to focus more on the one cygnet she has.
“It’s not pleasant,” Novak said. “You talk to the swan experts and they’ll tell you she’ll know when it’s time and she’ll get off, and there’s some truth to that, but it’s awfully painful to watch.”
The single cygnet is getting some attention from Greta, who’s teaching it to get in the water, swim and feed on the Key Club's . That problem could continue with only one baby, as Novak said parents of an only cygnet may get bored after a time.
“When there’s only one, the interest could wane,” Novak said. “They could lose their attention for the one so it really needs to grow fast.”
The cygnet will stay with its parents until it’s kicked out of the nest to make way for a new brood to come, which usually happens in December. Until then, it will learn how to feed and swim alongside Greta and Clark. As for the future of the swans, Novak is looking at how to increase the population with outside help. As of now, he is unsure if that will involve purchasing another breeding pair or simply another male and female to increase the stock.