The History of Cedar Memorial's Hallmark Swans

Our swans have been a beloved staple since the 1930s when the first pair of Mute swans were imported and brought to Cedar Memorial by founder Carl K. Linge. They've continued to make an impact on our culture and reputation since their arrival. Not only were they incorporated into our logo, but the lake where they reside has been named "Swan Lake" in their honor.

It's unclear exactly where the idea to have swans came from, but the community has grown to love our swans and their much-anticipated cygnets (baby swans).

Royal Connections

Over the years, Cedar Memorial swans have been known to have ties to the royal family. It was reported that in the 1960s, swans from the royal gardens of London made their way to America on the Thames. Years later, cygnets from this exact pair would call Swan Lake their home.

Most notably, Cedar Memorial received royal recognition from the Prince and Princess of Wales in June of 1984. After the public was invited to participate in a naming contest for a new swan pair, the winning submission turned out to be “Prince Charles and Princess Diana.”

Following the contest, an employee wrote a letter and sent newspaper clippings to the royal couple informing them of the namesake. Four years later, the Cedar Rapids-based Charles and Diana welcomed six adorable cygnets. Another letter was sent to Buckingham Palace—and this one got a response!

An assistant private secretary to Prince Charles extended the royal couple’s “warmest thanks and very best wishes for the future.” The royal letter was later displayed at Cedar Memorial.

Our Cygnets

The annual arrival of our cygnets each spring has become a favorite in the community, drawing interest from local photographers, residents, and social media followers. Of course, a lot of their popularity stems from being utterly adorable, but the process is fascinating as well.

Swan clutches range in size from three to eight eggs but not all will be fertilized. The parents begin by building their nest, a project that takes two to three weeks. Once the nest is ready to go, the egg-laying process begins with an egg being laid every 12-24 hours. The eggs are incubated together for about six weeks before they begin hatching.

They typically hatch in May, producing fuzzy cygnets covered in a thick down and weighing between seven and 10.5 ounces. Despite being able to run and swim within hours of entering the world (impressive!) they remain in the nest with their mother for the first few days. Not long after, they will join both parents on the water, where they are shown the ropes of swan life.

The continuous arrival of cygnets since the 1930s has created a self-sustaining population of swans at both Cedar Memorial and at swan sanctuaries, private estates, and zoos around the country. For instance, we are often asked where the cygnets go when people no longer see them. Our Cygnets are relocated to an Indiana Swan Sanctuary before the cold, winter months. From there, they head to new homes each spring.

Carl and Ruby, our current Swan Lake residents, welcomed four cygnets this past May.

Swan Care and Maintenance

Visitors are welcomed and encouraged to pay Swan Lake a visit and see these magnificent creatures for themselves. We do ask, and often reiterate, that the public keeps a safe distance and does not feed the swans. They are on a special diet suited to their needs and can be very protective of both their nest and the cygnets.

In the earlier years of Cedar Memorial, the mature swans would remain on the pond throughout the winter, snuggling for warmth and utilizing a swan house for shelter. Today, our swans are brought to a secured enclosure instead, where they are fed and monitored daily. This helps protect the swans, but also allows Swan Lake to freeze over—preventing geese from landing and inhabiting the area.

If you’ve never been, be sure to visit the park and watch the swans. Regardless of your connections to Cedar Memorial, our park is beautifully maintained and the perfect place for a quiet walk and time spent reflecting. You can also like us on Facebook for more swan facts and photos!


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