Animal activists say a swan has ‘died of a broken heart’ after her unborn cygnets were killed when yobs destroyed their nest.
The swan’s nest sat along the Manchester Canal in Bolton, and housed her unhatched eggs.
The Manchester Evening News reports a group of teenage boys were seen throwing bricks and rocks in Kearsley on 20 May, aiming for the island where the bird had left her eggs.
After the incident, only three of the six unhatched cygnets survived.
Wildlife activists had been keeping watch of the swans and the nest, saying the male swan left around two weeks ago and has not returned since – and that it is believed he had been driven away by stress.
They also said more eggs had been lost in recent weeks, meaning only one remained.
It was earlier this week that the female swan was found dead in her nest, with wildlife activist Sam Woodrow telling the MEN: “There’s not much I can say really.
“She probably died of a broken heart as she had a partner for life and he was driven away by stress.”
A Facebook user called Michael Mason also said in the All About Bolton Facebook group: “I really don’t want to do this post today because it comes with great sadness.
“I have tried to keep you updated on this swan who laid six eggs, three were destroyed by youths, she has then been harassed by dogs jumping in and harassed by a duck and moor hen and two more eggs were lost leaving her with one egg.
“Her mate left her on her own and sadly I was informed this morning she was found slumped in her nest dead. Just feel like crying as I have followed her progress for about 12 weeks.”
When asked about the swan’s death, Mason later said: “To be honest I think it was a broken heart.”
Another Facebooker commented: “So very sad, as you say it was probably a broken heart.”
Someone else said: “So sad and heart breaking…”
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “This is a really sad development and it is very upsetting to hear about the death of this poor swan.
“We are investigating the previous distressing incident and we would urge anyone with information to contact our appeals line on 0300 123 8018.
“Swans, their nests and their eggs are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.”