Nesting Swans at English Lake
usually form pair bonds on their winter grounds. The
pair migrates north in the spring to nest and sometimes
arrives on the breeding grounds before the ice melts.
Pairs may select a nesting spot that is the same as
where the pen (female) was born. The female chooses the
nest and the cob (male) defends it. If a pair spends at
least two summers nesting at the same spot, it will form
an almost unbreakable attachment to the site.
Large, shallow wetlands, 1-3 feet deep, with a mix of vegetation and open water offer ideal swan nesting habitat. These locations provide the swans with underwater food like sago pondweed and water milfoil, as well as emergent (plants that stick out of the water) plants like arrowhead, bur reed, bulrush, sedges, and wild rice.
Nest building begins in mid-April and lasts 1-2 weeks. Nests may reach diameters of 6 feet or more. That's quite a nest! Trumpeters often build their nests on top of muskrat or beaver lodges, or they pile sedges and cattail tubers into mounds. The cob uproots vegetation and gives it to the pen, who piles it high. Then she uses her body to form a depression in the nest for her eggs. The same nest may be used year after year. Nests are usually surrounded by water.