Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: How to pinion and sex baby swans
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 7 April 2017
In Response To: How to pinion and sex baby swans (Lois)

Hi Lois

You need to get the cygnets to a veterinarian experienced in birds immediately. The cygnets are too young for sexing unless the veterinarian can take a feather sample and submit to a licensed DNA laboratory. This is the only guaranteed way to determine gender. You will also need a way to identify which swan the DNA came from as test results will take 1-2 weeks to get back.

The cygnets must be pinioned by a licensed veterinarian as this is a partial amputation of the flight section of one wing. This procedure must be done at less than one week of age so anesthesia is not required. At this age, nerves, bones, soft tissue and blood vessels are not fully developed. After this time, the tissues are developed, anesthesia is required and it becomes very difficult on older birds. Additionally, some birds cannot assimilate the anesthesia and may die during the procedure.

Now, having said all of this, you may need to ask discreetly in order to find a veterinarian that can treat the swans, especially if they are Mute Swans. Michigan DNR and other state and federal wildlife officials are killing the Mute Swans so they can open habitats to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl hunting purposes. Even if you are on a private pond, you may need a permit to maintain and breed the swans. You will also find it difficult to find a home for juvenile swans once they are chased by the parents prior to the next mating season. If you release the swans without pinioning, state officials will shoot them if they are caught flying. If you need to find a good home later, please provide your email address to the moderator of this website. It will not be published and we may be able to offer you assistance. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

How to pinion and sex baby swans -- Lois -- 7 April 2017
Re: How to pinion and sex baby swans -- The Regal Swan -- 7 April 2017