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Longboat Key Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2019 3 years ago

Longboat Key swans expecting cygnets

Should any of the eggs survive the 35-day incubation period, it will be the first time in two years Longboat has new cygnets.
by: Katie Johns Community Editor

Longboat Key’s bevy of swans is expecting some new members.

David Novak, the swan keeper of the herd, said mating pair Clark and Greta have nested seven eggs. Should any of Clark and Greta’s eggs hatch, it will be the first time in two years Longboat Key has new swans.

In 2017, Sully died, making Susie a widow and unable to incubate their eggs. Last year, Greta and Clark were moved from the Islandside golf course to the Harbourside golf course after it was discovered Clark was not a female as the vet had originally identified.

But because the pair wasn’t moved until April, they were too traumatized to nest in time for the season.

Because of the lull in nesting, the island’s swan population is down to 12 from the usual 17 or 18. Novak estimates that of the seven in Clark and Greta’s nest, four or five will probably make it through the 35-day incubation period.

When swans are ready to lay eggs, they go through a time period of about a week of laying one or two eggs a day. When the mother swan realizes she’s done laying eggs, she sits on them for the incubation period. Occasionally, the male swan will incubate the eggs, too.

“Clark is being very attentive and staying nearby, which is a good sign,” Novak said.

The nest is near the north gate of Bay Isles, which Novak said means they are exposed to all the elements. They are close to the water, so Novak said he is hoping any rain that comes stays at a minimum so the nest doesn’t flood.

On Harbourside, Clark takes a turn incubating the eggs while Greta swims. Courtesy photo

Typically, a swan nest is within 15 feet of water on a gradual slope. Because of the renovations the Resort at Longboat Key Club is undergoing, sloped spots are harder for swans to find.

But still, there are pros to the spot Clark and Greta have chosen.

“Things can go wrong,” Novak said. “We’re hoping that in the location where they are, which is by the north gate of Bay Isles, that the activity there on the road will mean there won’t be any coyotes or foxes or anything like that that’s going to bother them.”

Across Gulf of Mexico Drive, on the Islandside course, there are five female swans. One of them is Susie, Sully’s widow, who Novak has now paired with Bubba, named after the golfer Bubba Watson.

While swans mate for life, they can find a new partner if theirs dies, such as the case for Susie. Novak said he believes she and Bubba have a nest together, but the presence of eggs is unclear.

“I see where the nest is, and I’m assuming there are eggs, but they’re too difficult to actually see,” Novak said.

Novak said the eggs were laid about a week later than normal, so he expects to see cygnets around May 9.

When new cygnets arrive, Novak said he will assess where to place them, whether that be on Longboat Key or in other communities.

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I’m Katie. I’m the Longboat Observer community editor, which means I cover all people, places and things pertaining to Longboat Key. I graduated from the University of Missouri in 2016 with degrees in journalism and Spanish. Reach me at 941-366-3468 ext. 364.

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