At the Slimbridge Centre of the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, a pair of Bewick’s swans, a species famous for their monogamy, has separated. This marks the second split in 40 years of observation and 4,000 couples studied.
Male Sarindi and female Saruni had been together for two years. When Sarindi returned from his migration to Arctic Russia with a new partner, whom scientists named Sarind, they feared Saruni had passed on. Bewick’s swans make the United Kingdom’s Amber List, between Green and Red. The swans are ‘rare breeders,’ and have seen moderate decline in population.
The arrival of Saruni, also with a new mate, hers a male named Sarune, confused the researchers. The swans typically do not take on a new mate until the death of one partner or the other. The former couple now occupies the same small area, but they have not shown any signs of recognition or interaction. Previously, they had spent all their time near each other, and migrated together.
Wildlife Health Research Officer Julia Newth speculates on the break up. She explains, “Failure to breed could be a possible reason, as they had been together for a couple of years but had never brought back a cygnet, but it is difficult to say for sure.”
The Bewick’s swan is considered a subspecies of the Tundra Swan, with a yellow patch on their black beaks. This patch, unique to each swan, is the primary identifying feature of the swans. They are also known for their high-pitched honk.
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