Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Swans in lake community: Will they come home at night?
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 20 July 2013

Hi Ply:

Good luck in this venture. Swans are not like duck and geese and usually cannot be domesticated. However, there are some training skills that may be useful.

First, check to see if you need a permit to possess swans. Some states require one and you may also need a permit as a breeder if you possess a male and female swan. So, if you can possess them, even with a permit, we would suggest that you stick with swans of the same gender so that no offspring are produced or you will have a larger maintenance issue. No offspring prevents a breeder license, you do not have to worry about tri-weekly vet care, pinioning, etc., other veterinary expenses and having to look for another home for the cygnets on a yearly basis. Swans can produce 1-13 cygnets a year and therefore, you will be looking for new homes and incurring veterinary care for each cygnet on a yearly basis.

Second, get a young pair 8-10 months of age. You will need to build a pen (completely enclosed top to bottom with feeder inside) 1/2 on land and 1/2 in water to allow the birds time to acclimate themselves to you and their habitat. Place a mixture of 1/2 cracked corn and 1/2 poultry layer pellet in the feeder. Supplement their diet with treats such as lettuce and bread and let them know that you are the one that is caring for them. Spend copious amounts of time with them. In approximately 2 weeks, remove the pen, keep the feeder in the same location (you can see how to set-up a feeder in previous emails on this site, or get a copy of our book, Swans of the World Habitats: Setting the Standard for Swan Conservation, to understand how to set up a swan habitat including feeder, shelter, etc.

Once the swans have full access to the pond, continue feeding them the lettuce and the bread near your house or whatever structure that you are placing them at night. The indoor facility must have ample ventilation (cool in summer and warm in winter) with access to a water and food bowl free from pests such as ants and rats.

Third, you need a boat with at least a 50 hp trolling motor. Keep at least two batteries charged daily for the boat. Swans do not listen very well and can be very stubborn. If the food trick does not work to let them understand that they need to come in at night, you may need to go out and get them by chasing them to your house and up to their nightly shelter. After a couple days of this, they will understand that if they do not come in on their own, you will place the boat in the water. Once the boat is in water, they will usually head for their night shelter. You need to bring them in at least 1 hour before dusk and let them out at least l hour after sunrise. These hours are when the predators are most likely to be roaming the area. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Swans in lake community: Will they come home at night? -- Ply -- 19 July 2013
Re: Swans in lake community: Will they come home at night? -- The Regal Swan -- 20 July 2013