Black Swan's nest containing five eggs, c 1900
Image: A J Campbell
Source: Museum Victoria
Question: I have a dam with an island in the middle. A swan has laid her eggs on it but I'm worried the chicks will be attacked by foxes when they leave the island. When will they hatch so that I can take steps to protect them?
Answer: The swan will probably have laid up to 8 or 9 eggs. After the last egg has been laid, incubation starts and they will take about 3 to 4 weeks to hatch.
For the first few months of life the chicks will stay on the island and in the water and will thus be protected from predators such as foxes and feral cats.
After this they will venture further out from the island to shore and to foray onto the mainland where they will be at greater risk. Although they will still be protected by their parent, you may expect to lose a few if something isn't done about these predators.