bells back 6-12-11 007.JPGA baby swan hatched at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts lagoon has been killed by a predator, a swan caretaker said.

Martha, the cygnet born to the swans Blue Boy and Blanche on Memorial Day, disappeared Thursday evening, caretaker Gayle Hagerty said. Either a hawk or a raccoon is suspected to have taken the baby.

Hagerty said the death, while upsetting to the swan family’s many fans, is very natural. Swans normally hatch around six cygnets and lose about two, she said, and Blue Boy and Blanche are inexperienced parents.

“It’s heartbreaking for everybody, but it happens,” Hagerty said.

More hatchlings for the pair this year are not expected, as Martha had already arrived later than usual, Hagerty said.

It’s also unlikely that Bella, Blue Boy’s sister, will return to the lagoon, she said. Bella, who spent more than a month away from the lagoon while being treated for an injured foot, was removed shortly after her return last week. Blue Boy and Blanche, protective of their new cygnet, were treating her as an intruder.

Hagerty said that even with Martha gone, Blue Boy and Blanche would probably continue to reject Bella now that she has been identified as a trespasser.

“They’re bird-brained that way,” she said.

However, Bella is now staying with a flock of nine swans and has a good chance to mate and bond in her new home, Hagerty said.

Sara Gaiser, Bay City News

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