Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Abandoned cygnets
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 22 November 2015
In Response To: Abandoned cygnets (Pam)

Hi Pam

If the cygnet can fly, but is not migrating, it probably means one of two things. The cygnet was too young and could not fly at the time of the migration by the parents so they had to leave. Remember, in nature it is more important to save the family, flock or species rather than one member. If you can't keep up, the parents are not going to spend time, effort, energy or life to wait.

Secondly, even though the swan appears to be able to fly short distances, it may have something genetically or anatomically wrong with its wings structure which limits the distance or height it can fly. This again could be genetic, injury or nutritional in cause.

There is no good way not to have him not rely on you. The cygnet will not survive in severe weather as it can starve or become dehydrated, become ill from not being able to keep warm or dry, drown from not being able to get up on the ice should it fall through and be killed by predators that can walk onto the ice and kill the bird.

If you can find a wildlife/waterfowl sanctuary that might be able to house him for the winter, this could be a good solution. However, some wildlife agencies are killing the swans or threatening wildlife rehab facilities and staff as well as veterinarians with the loss of their licences if they do not kill the birds. So, you have to be careful who you ask for help.

You will need to supplementally feed the swan with cracked corn and poultry layer pellets. Adding lettuce will also provide necessary vegetation. You need to throw the food into the water away from the bank to prevent pests such as ants, rats and predators. Ideally, if you have a barn or shed that you can house the cygnet during severe weather, that is even better. You can then train him to come inside at night or other times when his health and welfare may be jeopardized. You just need to provide him with plenty of straw, fresh food and water mixed in a large bowl that he can eat and drink as well as adequate ventilation and warmth free from predator access. So, the answer to your question, there is no real way to intervene without him relying on you this first winter. He may be able to fly next winter, but there are no guarantees. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Abandoned cygnets -- Pam -- 22 November 2015
Re: Abandoned cygnets -- The Regal Swan -- 22 November 2015