Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 14 January 2014
We are so sorry for your loss. Yes, swans will try to leave a frozen lake. There are several reasons for this migration. First, the swan could starve without adequate food sources. Even though you may supplementally feed the birds, the swans may still need aquatic vegetation or other nutrients that they cannot access in a frozen pond.
If the pond is frozen, the swan can fall into the water and drown. If she had a close call, fell into the water and could barely get out, then this would be a motivation to leave the pond.
The most probable cause is a predator. Frozen ponds give direct access to wildlife, especially swans or other birds that may be pinioned (cannot fly) or cannot fly very well. She may have been chased and the only way for her to escape was to try and cross the bridge.
We would strongly suggest that if the pond is going to freeze once again, that the male swan is captured and temporarily placed indoors until the pond thaws completely. We know that this is just the beginning of winter, but if the pond continues to freeze, the same above reasons are going to cause the swan to try and flee or it will ultimately be seriously injured or killed.
If you can put an aerator/de-icer in the pond, this will keep the pond open during the winter. Hopefully, the young swan will return to your food, but there are no guarantees that he will stay in the area if he is chased or feels threatened by the habitat or predators.
Since he is a young bird, you might try to get another female for him. As he ages, there are no guarantees that he will ever try to re-pair with another female. BEFORE getting any other swan, please have the remaining swan sexed by a licensed veterinarian experienced in waterfowl/swans to insure that this is indeed a male swan. If you get a same gendered swan for the remaining swan, they could seriously injure or kill each other.
Also, the new swan will need to be penned in an enclosure (1/2 in water and 1/2 on land, fully enclosed so predators cannot dig under or climb into the pen) to help introduce the new swan to the remaining swan. The pen should also have a feeder in the enclosure so that the swan can understand how it is to be fed, learn that you are the caretaker and help introduce her to her new habitat. If there are any signs of aggression, then the new swan should be found a new home. We hope that this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan