A mother swan is said to have died from a ‘broken heart’ after heartless vandals smashed her unhatched eggs with bricks.
A group of teenage boys killed the unborn cygnets after hurling rocks and bricks at them last month in Bolton, Greater Manchester.
The mother was found dead earlier this week, not long after the father swan disappeared, Manchester Evening News reported.
The yobs were spotted throwing rocks and bricks at the swans’s nest along Manchester Canal in Kearsley on May 20.
Witnesses said they were aiming for the island where the swans had made a nest and three of the six eggs were left smashed.
Wildlife activists, who were monitoring the swans, said more eggs were lost in recent weeks, leaving just one surviving egg.
They added that the father swan was driven away from the nest due to stress two weeks ago and has not returned since.
The female swan has been harassed by moor hens, ducks and a dog since her unhatched eggs were first attacked.
The heartbroken activists sadly found the female swan dead in her nest earlier this week.
Activist Sam Woodrow said: ‘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.’
According to Swan Lifeline, it has been known for swans to die of a broken heart if they lose their partners, as swans generally mate for life.
Posting on Facebook, Michael Mason said: ‘Her mate left her on her own and sadly I was informed this morning she was found slumped in her nest dead. I just feel like crying.’
Swan Sanctuary said if a swan’s mate is killed or disappears, the surviving bird goes through a similar grieving process to humans, the Mirror reported.
Then the swan either finds a new stretch of water to live in, flies off to join another flock or stays where it is.
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.’
This comes soon after the Met Police launched a hunt for a jogger who allegedly booted a cygnet in Richmond Park in south-west London, on June 8.
Police suspected the jogger kicked the newly-hatched cygnet, leaving the tiny bird with brain damage. It died two days later at a sanctuary in Shepperton, Surrey.
The suspect is a white male around 60 years old, is 5ft 6in and is balding. He was wearing black running shorts, a vest and a running top with a logo on it at the time.
Last week, a swan and her three cygnets were killed near Eisey Footbridge in Wiltshire by teenagers armed with catapults.
The news was posted on a Facebook community page, The Only Way is Cricklade, on June 13 and was shared more than 1,700 times.
The post said: ‘We have had some awful reports of teenagers with catapults attacking swans.
‘One witness advised us that they killed three cygnets and a mother swan last night. They may have killed others as well.
‘This is awful news. A cash reward has been offered for information that leads to a conviction.’
Hundreds of people commented on the Facebook page, describing the incident as ‘heartbreaking’ and ‘sickening’.
Victoria Keville said: ‘In these sad times it is such a joy to see these beautiful birds with their young.
‘This is a criminal offence and the law needs to come down on those responsible. This is not acceptable – it’s murder.’