The swan and her partner had been nesting on the Wyrley and Essington Canal, near Pratts Mill Bridge in Walsall, for around a month until they were targeted in the attack – which left the abandoned eggs unhatched.
Concerned members of the public contacted the RSPCA after spotting the female swan dead in the water.
RSPCA animal rescue officer Cara Gibbon, who is investigating for the charity, said: “It is absolutely sickening to think that someone deliberately shot this swan.
"Whoever did this seemingly enjoyed torturing her while she was in the process of incubating her eggs.
“She was shot twice – the second time was likely to have been as she was trying to flee her nest when faced with the shocking violence.
“It is believed the shooting took place between 6pm on Friday, May 7, and 10am on Saturday, May 8. Local residents who had been keeping an eye on the pair during the month they have been nesting saw her on Friday evening but found her dead beside the nest the following morning
“She must have suffered during this brutal attack and the eggs which were well established will not hatch.
“The most saddening part is seeing her partner grieving her death. As can be seen from these upsetting pictures, he was seen waiting beside her dead body the morning after her death.
“Swans famously form monogamous bonds that last for many years. He’s still on the water but appears to be reluctant to move but hasn’t attempted to sit on the eggs on the nest left vacant by her killing.
“I am now appealing for anyone with information as to who is responsible or anyone who saw anything suspicious to call the RSPCA appeal line on 0300 123 8018.”
All wild birds, including swans, are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is an offence to intentionally kill, injure or take them except under licence. The maximum penalty, if found guilty, is six months in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
The animal welfare charity is hoping the tragedy helps to highlight the dangers posed by air weapons
Cara added: “Every year the RSPCA receives almost 1,000 calls to investigate cases and help hundreds of animals that are the defenseless victims of air gun attacks.
“It is very distressing to think that people take pleasure in causing such horrific injuries to defenceless animals. These are deliberate and brutal acts of cruelty.
“Cats and wildlife are normally the animals that are more susceptible to these incidents simply because they are out in the open with no one to protect them. Unfortunately, air rifle attacks are not as rare as we would like. The injuries caused by such attacks are horrific and often fatal, like it was for this poor swan.
"We are calling for tighter controls on air weapons. This, along with better education and explanation of the law when buying an air gun, and requirements that everyone must receive basic safety training before being allowed to walk out of the shop could help relieve the problem.”