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Name: Fred
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We have a pair of what I believe are trumpet swans that live in a pond behind our yard. Every year they have a handful of babies and every year they slowly disappear. Last year one survived but it was the first one ever in about seven years. Today I witnessed the most unusual behavior, the pair have one baby left and it was about four weeks old and they protect like a pair of parents, but sometime this afternoon we watched the mother abuse her baby by smacking it with her wings, plucking it with her beak and stepping on it with her feet. The father then would sit on top of it until it wouldn't come up. Eventually the baby was so wounded it collapsed and drowned in the pond. My question is, why would the parents kill their baby?

The only answer I can give you is that adult birds will (rarely) kill their offspring if food is scarce so that the adults can survive to breed another year. Also, if the young have disabilities or are unhealthy they will be left or killed since they would not be able to survive anyway.

Grace Fields

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