Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Worried about wintering Mute Swans
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 12 November 2013
In Response To: Worried about wintering Mute Swans (Yasmin)

Hi Yasmin:

The swans should be allowed to go outside (l hour after daybreak and 1 hour prior to dusk). Then, they should be placed indoors to allow them to be warm and safe against predators. During the winter months, predators will try to access snowy areas or icy ponds where they can walk out and get swans that cannot fly or escape from the area. Predators begin foraging once the sun goes down until the sun comes up. That is why the swans must be brought in prior to dusk and left inside until the sun has been up for approximately an hour. Even then, predators can hunt during the winter months at all times if their food sources are scarce due to inclement weather.

If you can, we would suggest that you let them out at different times, i.e., maybe one morning, 8AM and next morning 9 am. Always bringing them indoors before dusk. In fact, you may want them to enjoy only a few hours midday and then bring them indoors. The reasoning is that you do not set a pattern that a predator recognizes and waits for the time of release to attack. Additionally, you may only want to release them once or twice a week depending upon how cold and wet it is. Swans can stay indoors without bathing for approximately 1 week. We have had to evacuate swans during hurricanes and they did well indoors as long as they had clean bedding (free from pests, rats, ants, etc.) and a feeder. A daily spray down with warm water to allow them to preen and clean their feathers is sufficient.

We would strongly suggest that the building they are housed in at night is completely safe from predators entering the shelter from either digging under the building, climbing in a window or door or any other access that they may be able to gain entry. If the shelter just has a roof, predators can access the swans and attack.

If the shelter is completely enclosed, you will need a heat source, being careful against fire from heat build up near the straw or hay bedding. The swans will also need some light ventilation (slight open window-safe from predator access, no draft, but just open enough to provide fresh air and not chill the birds.

If this shelter is not able to be heated safely, you can actually clean out an area of a garage, place sheets on the floor, and try to form a corral inside the garage. You will need to clean the bedding daily, but it will be warmer than a barn or other such shelter, especially if the garage is attached to your house. Ventilation should also be adequate in a garage due to the garage doors not being airtight, but at least it will be safe from predators. DO NOT use heat lamps if you have gasoline, chemicals or other flammable materials in the garage. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Worried about wintering Mute Swans -- Yasmin -- 12 November 2013
Re: Worried about wintering Mute Swans -- The Regal Swan -- 12 November 2013