Mute Swans have strong, loyal pair bonds and mate for life. They are also devoted parents who raise their young together. Both teach their cygnets to swim, forage, preen, recognize danger, defend themselves, and fly.
The father (cob) is the one primarily responsible for defending the family’s territory, though the mother (pen) will also defend her nest, eggs, and cygnets.
Both parents are most protective during nesting and for the first weeks of their cygnets’ lives, when they are extremely vulnerable. During that time, swans will “busk” (puff up, swim rapidly or walk towards a threat, and hiss) when they perceive that their babies are in danger.
They are not capable of seriously harming people, but the threat display is meant to be intimidating and people sometimes hurt themselves evading a busking swan or feel inconvenienced by their presence.
Sharing space with wildlife is a privilege. During breeding season avoid and reduce conflicts by giving swan families space and keeping dogs on leash.