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Happy Mother’s Day to our readers! We hope everyone enjoys the sunny weather expected all weekend. If you find time for a lakeside stroll, consider stopping in front of the Villa Plantamour/HD Centre in Geneva’s Parc Mon Repos.

What awaits you there? The charming sight of a beautiful mute swan mother (pen), with 5 freshly-hatched cygnets. The babies keep very close to her, sometimes clambering on her back and sheltering beneath her wings. The father swan (cob) is also very protective and swims nearby. He helps to corral the cygnets and keeps the other swans/birds (and people!) at a safe distance.

These beautiful birds nest in the same place annually, and if you look on the shoreline next to the promenade, you may spot this one remaining egg (seen there on 8 May). With a little luck, cygnet #6 will hatch and increase the family’s headcount.

Please take care to give space to the nest and family, as mute swans are very territorial and can be aggressive. They will defend themselves with loud hissing (belying their name). If that’s not sufficient to drive away perceived threats, they will bite and physically attack with their strong wings.

The male and female often pair up for life, and produce one brood (4-10 eggs) each spring. The cygnets hatch after ~36 days, but won’t fly until they’re around 4-5 months old. By then they will be about the size of their parents, so if you want to see them while they’re tiny balls of down, don’t delay.

There are just 600-700 breeding pairs in Switzerland, so seeing a family up close is a treat. Do you know of another pair of swans/new cygnets along the lakeshore? Or other cute wildlife babies? Tell us in the comments below!

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to learn more about our activities and excursions, visit our website at  http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/