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Necropsy reveals no clear cause of death for Esplanade’s ‘Mother Swan’

‘Mother Swan’ (left) with her mate and her brood in late May.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A necropsy of the Charles River Esplanade’s ‘Mother Swan’ revealed no clear cause of death for the bird who died Monday, officials said.

The city’s veterinarian performed the necropsy Wednesday and found the swan had been in good body condition and had no signs of external trauma, said a representative of the Boston Parks Department. The swan had no foreign material in her oral cavity, the contents of her GI tract showed no evidence of non-food material, and her internal organs were a normal shape and size.

The swan had hatched a group of cygnets about a week before her death.


Photographer Sylvia Zarco, who has documented the swan family on Instagram since April, described the mother swan’s final moments in a post.

“I quickly realized something was wrong with mom,” Zarco wrote. “She was resting, sheltering her cygnets like the great mom she’s been for the past week. But she couldn’t lift and hold up her head. She stumbled when she stood, couldn’t swim straight and whatever she did, she only propelled herself backward.”

“When it was clear she couldn’t get back to the nest, [her mate] seemed to help her to the opposite shore where she eventually put her head on the rocks so she wouldn’t drown. But by the time Boston Animal Control (thank you Brad) could come to her aid, she had already died,” the post continued.

The necropsy also confirmed the bird is a mute swan, an invasive species in North America, and the same breed as those living in the Public Garden.

Zarco indicated the male swan was taking care of the babies.

A baby swan looks out from under feathers between both parents.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Charlie McKenna can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @charliemckenna9.