Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Mute swan survival in the northern winter
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 28 November 2013

Hi Heather:

The survival of the swan depends on two things:

1. Does the pond or lake freeze? If so, the chances are slim for survival as the swan can starve, even if you supplementally feed them (which supplemental feeding is absolutely essential for the swan and can increase its chances for survival), the swan can fall through the ice and drown or be taken by a predator that can walk out onto the ice and attack the swan.

2. How cold does it really get and is the inclement weather so bad that you get more than 40 mile an hour winds, subzero temperatures that last more than a few hours? If so, the chances of survival are going to be slim.

If the bird is a very young bird and did not leave the area with its family for whatever reason (underdeveloped wings, illness or abnormality that prevented it from leaving), the chances of survival are even worse.

If any of these issues exist, we would suggest trying to feed the swan and luring it close to land, preferably on land to try and capture the swan and take it to a wildlife rehabilitation or other waterfowl facility for the winter so that it can be protected from the winter weather and released back onto the pond for the spring. Hopefully, the next winter it leaves the area.

Swan food is 1/2 mixture of cracked corn and 1/2 mixture of poultry layer pellets with lettuce. The cracked corn acts as a filler and provides the much needed Vitamin A. The poultry layer pellets provide micronutrients and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, etc. The lettuce acts as a replacement for aquatic vegetation that becomes scarce during the winter months.

Now, having said this, Mute Swans are being culled in Michigan, meaning the state wildlife officials are killing them because they do not believe that they are native to North America. Hence, many are being killed in the middle of the night by decapitation and if they are cygnets, stomped to death. This quiet killing does not arouse any suspicion at night and does not allow for negative publicity for state wildlife officials by citizens who are against this killing. Michigan is not the only state determined to kill more than 130,000 Mute Swans in the next 10 years. The issue is to bring back the Trumpeter Swans which will become overridden in 10 years. Then, the Trumpeters will be placed on the hunting list as a Trophy Waterfowl so that states can make money off this new hunting revenue. Sad, but true and unfortunately, this is being done with taxpayer monies.

So, if you seek help, ensure that whatever entity you contact has a no-kill shelter. Some wildlife facilities and even veterinarians are under state law not to help the swans and to even kill them. Therefore, you will need to be extremely cautious to ensure that the swan does not end up killed because of a state wildlife mandate. If you can capture the swan and cannot get help in your state, please let us know and we will try to intervene to find the bird a new home. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Mute swan survival in the northern winter -- Heather -- 28 November 2013
Re: Mute swan survival in the northern winter -- The Regal Swan -- 28 November 2013