Ask the Swan Specialist
Date: 20 November 2015
Find out from the neighbors the age of the cygnet. If the cygnet is approximately one year of age, it should have already gotten its street smarts from the parents and should be able to at least find food. If you have an aerator, that is great news as the pond cannot freeze. However, the problem is if the cygnet will stay in that pond at night and not walk around, especially if you have predators such as mink, bobcat, fox, coyote etc.
You can possibly train the bird to come indoors if you have a shed with adequate ventilation but warm during inclement weather. Cygnets need more warmth than adult birds, so for the first winter, you may need to bring him indoors when temperatures go below 30 degree F or winds reach 40+ miles an hour. Strong winds can blow a swan into nearby structures, break their necks or cause them to be injured by flying debris.
Again, the key is trust. You need to continually feed the swan or place a feeder in the water so that the cygnet can feed at will. Sit by the feeder speaking with the swan until it gets comfortable with you. While sitting next to him, feed him treats, such as bread or lettuce. Then, back up your chair until you can walk him up the bank and into a shed or other predator proof shelter. You can actually teach the cygnet to come indoors an hour before dusk and then go out onto the pond approximately 1 hour after dawn. You may need to adjust the times so that predators do not catch onto the time that the swan is entering or exiting the water and show up on que to attack the bird. The primary problem is if the cygnet does not sleep entirely in the pond but comes on the bank at night. Predators, especially during the winter will take this opportunity to attack.
Another issue is the size of your pond. Is there any way that you can build an island in the center of the pond and train the swan to stay on the island at night? This will also help keep predators from accessing the bird. You might ask the neighbors how they protect their swans from predators and severe weather. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have further questions. The Regal Swan