Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 23 October 2013
There are several reasons that the young bird was left behind.
1. There was something wrong with it and the parents abandoned it knowing that it could not make the long migratory flight.
2. The swan may be the runt and does not have wings that are developed to fly so it cannot fly at this time. However, if it cannot fly at this time and does not learn the migratory path from its parents, it is highly unlikely that it will be ready to fly prior to the onset of a very severe winter. Once the pond freezes, the young bird can die from pneumonia or other exposure related illnesses, drown if it falls between ice pockets or risk being attacked by predators that can access frozen ponds to get to stranded waterfowl or wildlife.
3. The parents may just be out flying around and will return in the next few days. If they do not return, then you might want to try an contact a wildlife/waterfowl rescue facility if there is one in your area.
Note: The state of New York deems Mute Swans as non-native and there is a concerted effort to prevent veterinarians or other rescuers from interfering, even to the point of wildlife officials actively killing the swans. So, be careful who you contact.
If you can get close to the bird and capture it, you might be able to call around and see if there is a no kill shelter in your area that can house the young bird until spring time when it can be returned to the pond and meet up with swans returning back to the area during nesting season. This winter rest will allow it become more developed and possibly able to fly later.
If a shelter cannot be found, is there a way that you can house the young bird in a shed, garage, barn or other safe structure free from predators for the winter? If you cannot find a rescue facility in your area or cannot find a suitable solution to this problem, please contact us and we'll see if we can find someone in your area. Please let us know where you are located. The Regal Swan