Hot new couple in Tallinn Zoo: Duck and small swan make an unlikely pair

Mulard and a small swan.
Mulard and a small swan.

In Tallinn Zoo, the spring nestling is in full swing. To the surprise of the zoo workers, a male duck and a small swan have found each other. How serious the duck is about protecting his lady, will, unfortunately, be left unseen by the visitors because the zoo is closed due to the emergency situation.

If the zoo was open, visitors could see what's happening in the bird pond.

The common shelduck with a grand red bump on his beak is stepping out alongside the small swan. There are five shelducks and five small swans so both of them could find a partner from their own species but for some reason, they have formed a pair.

"It happens with birds but we haven't had this kind of situation happening that a duck and a swan get together. We have had geese finding each other a black and a white stork getting together," Inari Leiman from Tallinn Zoo said.

Many species are in the mating period and this forces them to fight with others in their species to protect their nesting territory. Leiman said that is the reason why the male mallard is looking so rough after a week of finding his partner.

"The male has to protect his lover and because the lover is big, his competitions are big as well," Leiman explained. "It is very interesting to see what happens to them. Last week they really fell in love and were so excited."

Both the shelduck and the small swan are the oldest of their species. The ratio in genders is not certain regarding the mallards but there are more females among the small swans.

"This causes the need for attention from a male regardless of the fact that he is so small," Leiman noted.

Lots of birds form a pair for life, but it doesn´t mean that if one of the partners dies or disappears, a new companion won't be found. It is a common knowledge that swans stay with their chosen companion for the rest of their lives.

"It's such a romantic fairytale that if one of the partners dies, the other will kill himself. That doesn't happen in real life," Leiman said.

The people of the zoo are watching with interest whether the feelings between the mulard and the small swan will survive over the summer.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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