Injured Cygnet, Reintegration with Family

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  • #22319 Reply
    Anita Lago

    Morning, Regal Swan Specialist,
    I volunteer at a local park that has a pair of swans. This year they have five cygnets. They are 6.5 weeks old.

    Yesterday, I noticed one had a large gash on its chest. In the crop area.
    We decided the injury needed medical attention and are planning a rescue today.The adult pair are very protective so will be challenging.

    Once we get the cygnet medical attention, and hoping the injury can be treated, can you please tell me if we will be able to return the cygnet to the pond and family? What are the chances they reject it? How long do we have to return it ensuring they won’t reject it?

    I appreciate your assistance.

    Kindest Regards,

    #22333 Reply
    Swan Expert

    Hi Anita

    The wound looks like a turtle or similar bite. The cygnet needs to be immediately taken to an experienced avian veterinarian for examination and treatment. The cygnet will probably need surgery to clean the wound. The young bird will definitely need a series of antibiotic treatments.

    This treatment will take approximately 2-3 weeks as the cygnet’s blood will need to be tested to ensure that the correct antibiotic is being used and the infection is completely gone. This time period will make it impossible to return the cygnet to its parents. If cygnets are not returned within 2-8 hours, ( we have seen a family of cygnets returned after 24 hours accepted, but very rare), the parents will abandon the cygnets or may seriously injure them. Therefore, if the cygnet survives treatment, you will need to find the cygnet a safe new home such as a waterfowl or wildlife sanctuary. The young bird can never be returned to the wild. The Regal Swan

    #22444 Reply
    Anita Lago

    Thank you so very much, Regal Swan.

    I was able to catch the swan today and get him/her to Volunteer for Wildlife here on Long Island. I sent them my photos before hand and also your response to me about the situation. They are evaluating. First review says tissue doesn’t look good but will see the avian vet in the morning. Outcome may not be good but he is in a place where he/She has the best possible chance.

    Thank you for everything.

    #40391 Reply

    Regal Swan, I wanted to update you on this situation of the injured cygnet.

    Volunteers for Wildlife was able to close the wound on the cygnet. They had the cygnet on a program you spoke about for infection. After three weeks, the cygnet was ready to be returned.

    You mentioned that after that much time, any reintegration of the cygnet back to the family would not work. By law the organization had to make an attempt to return, though.

    The cygnet was initially accepted but that only lasted for about three hours. At that time, a male cygnet began chasing and pushing the injured cygnet away. The cygnet then started getting more aggressive with biting and trying to get on top of the injured cygnet. I contacted the wildlife org and we were advised to rescue the injured cygnet but he was deep in hiding and I could not get to him before dark.

    I returned early the next morning, and discovered the adults were now chasing the cygnet. So, we intervened and rescued the cygnet.

    Thank you for advising so I knew what to look for in signs of rejection.

    I have to say, it was a wonderful three hours!

    #40428 Reply
    Swan Expert

    Hi Anita

    Due to the care needed for an open wound, maybe 2 weeks at least depending on size and cause, along with the need for continuous antibiotics, pain medication and follow-up blood tests to insure no auxiliary infection, and the cygnet’s young age, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to return the cygnet in a timely manner. The younger the cygnet and the longer the time separated from the parents (more than 2-3 hours), the less likely parent swans will take him back. Nature wires the parents to care for their existing cygnets and family and not waste time on a cygnet that disappears or is sick/injured. The parents will also recognize something is wrong with the cygnet and he eventually can’t keep up with the rest of the family. The injured cygnet will be shunned, chased and stressed. You will need to find a good waterfowl sanctuary or a good safe enclosed private home for him. The Regal Swan

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