Swan Expert

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  • in reply to: Mute swans, how much can they carry? #72183

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Leah

    Swans are grazers, meaning they eat aquatic vegetation and grasses. So, unlike predatory birds as owls, hawks, etc., they do not kill and fly away with prey. So, we’re really not sure what they would be carrying while they are flying.

    Furthermore, although mother swans carry their young on their backs beneath their wings, they only carry the young while the female is floating on water, not during flight. The carrying of young on the back only lasts for a couple of weeks while the cygnets are extremely small and weigh only ounces. We’re not sure there is an appropriate answer to the question of how much they can carry during flight as they typically do not carry anything while flying. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Swans sitting on grassy area for days #69367

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Cindy

    You are very welcome. Please let us know how this situation progresses. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Swans sitting on grassy area for days #69362

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Cindy

    It is not likely that the swans are Trumpeter swans as they are not usually found that far east of the Mississippi River region although this point is misrepresented by federal and state wildlife officials.

    If the swans have a small yellow patch near the eye and bill area called the lore, they are possibly Tundra Swans as these swans have black bills.

    If the swans have an orange bill, then they are Mute Swans. Now, having said this, if the swans are young juveniles that recently turned white, but their bills look black, they still could be Mute Swans.

    Swans and other waterfowl will rest along the migratory path and rest in what are known as stopovers. However, there would be many more swans if this was a true stopover, so this may be a temporary resting area. If these are young birds, they may not know where else they are to go if they were separated by older adult swans or if they are parents with a younger bird, they may be allowing it to rest.

    The best thing that can be done is to quietly call around to wildlife rehabilitation centers to see if they know anything about swans, especially Mute Swans. If they tell you they do not have any knowledge, tell you that you should contact your state wildlife authorities or that they will take the swans and have to kill them, then you know why we are saying to quietly ask around.

    State and wildlife officials will kill entire families or flocks of Mute Swans so that the species can be eradicated in the U.S. The purpose is to free up wetland habitats so that the larger Trumpeter Swans can be introduced for Trophy Waterfowl hunting purposes.

    If the swans have not left by tomorrow, we would suggest to quietly ask if someone might help. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Swan family dynamics #68834

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Karen

    There are two reasons for this behavior.

    If there is something wrong with the 5th swan, i.e., sick, injured or the runt that can’t keep up with the family, the parents will try to banish it from the family. Nature is not kind. The family or flock will banish a member if there is a possibility its state of poor health or weakness could allow predators to be alerted and follow the rest of the family/flock.

    The second reason could be the age and gender of the fifth swan. If the cygnets are turning white, the parents will begin to chase them from the area as they are seen as competition, especially if this cygnet is the oldest male. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Help! Female Swan looks to be I’ll this morning #68827

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Victoria

    You need to remove her from the water if she is in the water. If she is unable to hold her neck up she may have ingested a toxin. If the neck is held up, but looks stiff, she may have sustained an injury or possibly has something lodged in her throat. In any case, we would strongly urge you to capture her and take her to a licensed waterfowl/avian veterinarian as soon as possible. If she stops eating or drinking she can become severely dehydrated and develop other health issues. The veterinarian may have to tube feed her and/or give her an i.v. for rehydration/digestion purposes. Please let us know how she is doing. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Please Provide New LInk to Hudsonia Report #66876

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Tom:

    If you can email us at Bolin.S@att.net with your email address, we can send you the actual Hudsonia report. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Michigan DNR Mute Swan Pamphlet #66875

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Tom:

    Unfortunately, the misinformation provided by the Michigan DNR has been perpetuated since the late 1980’s when a deliberate collaboration between hunting groups and unscrupulous politicians was begun to remove Mute Swans from habitats so that Trumpeter Swans could be introduced (in areas that Trumpeters never existed) for Trophy Waterfowl Hunting purposes.

    The misinformation campaign included the exact talking points that you provided:
    Mute Swans are detrimental to the habitat (i.e., eat too much sub-aquatic vegetation (SAV), are aggressive and removed other waterfowl/wildlife from the habitat including Trumpeter Swans, attack humans, and their removal is supported by various groups.

    In 2004, a U.S. federal Court ruling showed that the government’s “talking points” were not based upon any reliable valid scientific research. Instead, the court found that the government’s research was “shoddy”. In our research as well as the Hudsonia Report, we found that the governments’ so called “research” was shoddy, incomplete or totally non-existent.

    In 2014, the International Swan Symposium was held in Maryland and was comprised of international Swan and Wetland Habitat Specialists. The above talking points were disputed by the swan and wetland habitat specialists. Actual valid reliable scientific research (old and current) has been intentionally ignored by government and other hunting organizations to promote the killing of the Mute Swans so that the Trumpeter Swan Trophy Waterfowl Hunting program can continue.

    At this same meeting, I personally asked Michigan DNR officials (the same ones who are currently and have been instrumental in disseminating the false information and promoting the removal of the Mute Swans) about their research. Both officials stated that they had no research but were relying on research from other studies such as from the Maryland DNR.

    At the Symposium, Maryland DNR officials admitted that they had no research, only anecdotal observations. The one study that was and has been cited by Maryland officials, was found to be non-peered reviewed, was incomplete and shoddily conducted. Furthermore, these same officials stated that the Mute Swan killing was conducted “under the radar from the media, politicians and the general public” knowing that there would be substantial opposition.

    Michigan DNR officials admitted not only that they had no research, their “counts” of Mute Swans were severely flawed in numerous years, and that even though the Michigan Taxpayer was paying $125,000 to the federal government, $25,000 to the Michigan DNR to eradicate the Mute Swans (these numbers did not include equipment, staff, etc.), the program was running out of money, but they intended to continue the Mute Swan killing program. Furthermore, in another state, once the taxpayer signed on with the federal government to eradicate geese and other waterfowl for $25,000, if one targeted wildlife species showed up after the eradication, the governmental groups would come in to remove the individual member and recharge the taxpayers for $25,0000 for the one removal as they stated they were under “contract” to remove the species. This type of removal contract can place an entity under a never-ending removal contract that must constantly be paid. So, we would certainly suggest that the bottom line is read if any contractual removal agreement is signed.

    Now, back to the facts.

    1. Numerous old and current scientific research studies show that Mute Swans are no more aggressive, detrimental to the habitat or other waterfowl/wildlife than any other species protecting their habitat and families. Furthermore, new studies show that the Mute Swans actually promote biodiversity in the habitat by their presence and feeding habits. Dabbling ducks and other waterfowl that cannot reach food resources are fed when the Mute Swans bring the food sources to the surface.

    As far as destroying the sub-aquatic vegetation (SAV), Mute Swans promote new growth and biodiversity of macrophytes and other waterfowl. The government states that the Mute Swans destroy and eat too much SAV. However, studies show that a Trumpeter Swan’s cygnet (baby swan), eats twice as much SAV as an adult Mute Swans. Furthermore, a Trumpeter Swan is much more defensive than a Mute Swan and will actually kill other waterfowl/Mute Swans just because of their size. Mute Swan attacks on humans have been overly exaggerated and are usually the result of boaters, fishermen and humans getting too close to nests or cygnets and the swans then actively chase and fight off the intrusion. There is even a story about a Mute Swan killing a person, but this story has been disputed in the courts.

    The so called “conservation groups”, Ducks Unlimited, Audubon and others are actual hunting groups that want to see the Trumpeter Swans introduced so they can hunt the largest waterfowl in the world. One of Audubon’s chief executives stated in an interview in the Wall Street Journal that Audubon was becoming more of a “hunting and trapping” organization. Therefore, these groups advocating the killing of Mute Swans and introduction of the Trumpeter Swans are only promoting future hunting programs.

    Lastly, these groups and unscrupulous politicians changed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) so that Mute Swans and other birds are no longer protected. They cite that Mute Swans are not “native” even though the 2004 Federal Court ruled that there was no language in the MBTA that promotes the killing of native/non-native swans, and fossils of ancestral Mute Swans have been found in the U.S. Again, points conveniently ignored by the promoters of the killing program.

    The above groups and politicians “reformed” the MBTA in 2004 and called the new revisions the Migratory Bird Treaty Reform Act (2004). The problem with this reformation is that it was never ratified and the U.S. has been in violation of the Treaty since 2004 and taxpayers have been funding a non-existent law. The killing of Mute Swans since the 1980’s has cost the U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars and continues today. Under the MBTA, NO SWAN is to be hunted except the Tundra Swan by indigenous people of Alaska. This ratification took place in 1992, but the MBTA has never been ratified since. So, again, any killing or hunting of any swan is illegal under the Treat and is also a violation of another Treaty the Ramsar Convention. Future lawsuits to the killing can cause civil and criminal retribution to those individuals and entities who have and continue to kill the swans.

    We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Keeping Males or Females #64996

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Linda:

    As the swans are still young and know each other, it does not hurt to keep several of the same gender together. We are going to share with you the pros and cons of males vs females and then give you are insight on what you might do.

    Males

    Pros: Can fend for themselves and be better matched if there are any predators in your area as they will be stronger than females.

    Cons: Can become rather defensive during mating/nesting season as they will and can pair up with another male especially if they are young and are raised together and no females are available. They will build a nest and sit on the nest until their hormones return to normal. Obviously, they will not produce any eggs.

    Females

    Pros: Less defensive than the males during mating/nesting season and will accept other swans more readily than the males.

    Cons: Can still become somewhat defensive during mating/nesting season as they can and will pair up with another female especially if they are young and are raised together and no males are available. The females can still produce eggs, obviously not viable. They can also get egg impacted from egg laying, but this can happen even if they are paired with a male swan.

    These are the basic pros and cons between males and female swans. If you have large predators in the area, you may want to consider staying with the males, although there is no guarantee that they will survive an aggressive attack from a predator any more than a female. The males are just much larger and stronger to help in the fight.

    The females will be much more docile than the males. Additionally, with you having 4 females, this will allow all swans to bond to form 2 pairs. With the 3 male scenario, you are going to have an odd man out which can produce many more problems such as fights, injuries, etc.

    In the scenario you describe, we would suggest that that you stick with the 4 females so that they can form 2 pairs. This will allow you to re-home the three males so that they have a chance to either form a bond of 2 and then allow the third male to bond with another female or find females for all three.

    In the case of re-homing, it must be noted that 2 of the males can be re-homed together if no one wants a breeding male. However, the third male WILL NOT re-pair with another male swan and he will need to be paired with a female swan. Otherwise, you may need to inform the new owners that the three can remain together, but there will be an odd man out. We have seen these types of 3 male siblings work out well and in other cases not work out at all. It totally depends on the individual attributes of the swans. Again, none of the swans will accept another male swan as their mate. They will accept siblings of the same gender, but not a new male swan.

    In the event that no one wants the male birds, please contact us and we will try to find a suitable home for all three. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Disappearance of eggs #64287

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Sarah

    There are only 4 possibilities.

    1. The eggs were infertile and the swans left the area.

    2. The eggs hatched and the parents moved the family away from the nest to avoid potential predators.

    3. A predator attacked the nest, scaring the parents away. The predator then took the eggs.

    4. Depending on which state you live and that you are in the U.S., state and federal wildlife officials have been killing adult swans and cygnets, destroying eggs and nests for the past 20 years. At extensive expense to taxpayers, this program has been carried out through lies to the taxpayer stating Mute Swans are non-native ( ancestral fossils have been found in North America),the swans are invasive and detrimental to the environment and other wildlife (current and past studies that are readily ignored by wildlife officials show that the presence of Mute Swans increase the biodiversity of their habitat, that the swans are Sentinel species indicating the presence of heavy metals such as lead and harmful microorganisms) and various other misrepresentations.

    Wildlife officials have been killing the Mute Swans because they are trying to open the swans’ habitat to introduce the larger Trumpeter Swans into areas they have never before inhabited. The purpose is to use the Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl hunting. Wildlife officials have denied this, yet specifically allowed the first hunting of Trumpeters to indigenous people in Minnesota in 2015, thus opening the pathway for general public hunting.

    Essentially, wildlife officials are killing an entire species (Mute Swans) to introduce another species (Trumpeter Swans) for Trophy Waterfowl hunting.

    All of this mess began in 2004 when a federal court ruled that wildlife officials had used “junk science” to kill the Mute Swans. The court ruled that the swans were protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) of 1918. In 1992, President Clinton ratified a change to the Treaty by declaring no swan except the Tundra Swan could be hunted by indigenous people of Alaska.

    Due to the 2004 court case, several unscrupulous congressman changed the protection of the Mute Swans by passing a bill on the last day of Congress in an Omnibus Budget Bill. Congress passed the Appropriations bill with the Mute Swan and other birds removed from protection of the MBTA and called this the 2004 MBTA Reform Act.

    This was done illegally because it is only the Foreign Relations Committee of the Senate and the President that can change a Treaty. All of this is to say that the U.S. taxpayer has been funding a bogus law since 2004 because it was never ratified. Furthermore, U.S. and state wildlife officials have been violating the Treaty since 2004 by killing Mute Swans and allowing the hunting of swans, specifically Tundra Swans throughout the U.S.

    Unfortunately, the same wildlife officials responsible for these violations for the past 20 years are still employed at the state and federal level. The only way to correct this issue is to have these individuals removed from these agencies. Only state governors can remove state wildlife officials and the President’s appointed officials remove them at the federal level. The major issue is that most of these positions are at government pay grades and prevent the firing. It is therefore, going to be up to the taxpayers to demand the killing of Mute Swans stop through their elected officials. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Swan killed by predator #64066

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi John

    Great news that the cygnets seem to be cared for by the parent. Also, glad you are preventing hunting. You can send photos to us at Bolin.S@att.net, Regal Swan’s email. Unfortunately, this site cannot accept photos at this time. Regal Swan

    in reply to: Swan killed by predator #64056

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi John

    So sorry to hear about the death of your swan. The male may or may not take care of the cygnets. Regardless, the predator may return and the cygnets and remaining parent will be at risk. Check to see if: the adult bird is allowing the cygnets to remain close to its side, feeds the cygnets by pulling submerged aquatic vegetation to the surface so the cygnets can eat, takes the cygnets to the bank or nest allowing them to rest and dry out. These behaviors will indicate if the cygnets are being care for by the parent.

    If the cygnets are helplessly trying to keep up with the parent or the parent leaves them for a long period of time, neglects feeding or keeps the cygnets in the water for great lengths of time, then care is not being properly given and you may need to rescue the cygnets.

    Think twice about taking the cygnets, and only if you are sure the cygnets are in immediate danger. Swans will imprint on people and once they begin thinking they are human, they can never be released on their own outside of a very controlled setting. If the cygnets are in a captive setting (never to leave your habitat, they need to be pinioned by a licensed veterinarian at 1-3 weeks of age–No later).

    Most states look at Mute Swans as an invasive species (which they are not-but by labeling as such renders them open to killing if they fly or are on a public lake. The reason is to open their habitats for introduction of the larger Trumpeter Swans for Trophy Waterfowl hunting). So, you have to be careful about maintaning cygnets or alerting to the fact that you have breeding Mute Swans. If these are wild birds, then there isn’t much you can do about pinioning. Just hope they can survive on their own if they fly away.

    There is no foolproof way of telling a male or female swan by its knob. Yes, males usually have larger knobs, but with no comparison to the other parent, a sexing is almost impossible. Furthermore, we have seen male swans with smaller knobs and female swans with larger knobs. So, knob size can be deceiving. The only guaranteed method of sexing a swan is to submit a feather (taken by a veterinarian as it has to have genetic material attached),to a reliable veterinary DNA Sequencing lab for testing.

    There are various behaviors that can delinate a male swan from a female swan, breeding behavior during copulation (the male will be on the top position.
    Nesting behavior, the male swan primarily builds the nest with the help of the female, the female primarily sits on the nest and eggs. Depending on individual behavior, some males may relieve the females during resting periods to sit on the eggs or they will sit on the nest nearby the eggs. The female is the primary incubator of the eggs.

    After hatching, the female swan will allow the cygnets to climb aboard her back and ride around under her wings when the cygnets get tired. Male swans do not allow this behavior.

    Since the period of breeding and nesting is over, the only behavior you can observe that may help in the identification of gender is the riding on the back by the cygnets.

    Do Not introduce any new swan to this mix until after the cygnets are more than 6 months of age and Only when you have had a proper sexing of the remaining parent.

    Male swans usually do not re-pair with another mate if their mate dies. However, this is an individual attribute and your swan could take on another mate. Female swans will usually re-pair with another swan. The biggest issue is to determine gender. If you place a Male swan in the habitat and your swan is a male, they can seriously injure each other to the point of accidental death to one or both of the swans. Same with two females, so you must have DNA Sequencing used to determine the gender of your swan and the gender of the swan being introduced.

    If you get another swan, the new swan must be placed in an introductory pen (totally enclosed top to bottom so predators cannot climb in or dig under the pen to attack the swan. The pen must be 1/2 on land and 1/2 in water with feeder enclosed,zero entrance with no steep banks or abrasive substrate to prevent leg or foot injuries).

    The new swan must be kept in the pen for approximately 2 weeks to allow it to familiarize itself with you, its new environment, your feeding system and your swan. Any signs of aggressiveness by either bird means this pairing is not going to work and you will need to find the new bird a safe and good home. Check with whomever you get the new swan from about their return policy because they may not issue you a refund and may not take the swan back.

    If after 2 weeks there is no sign of aggressiveness, the new swan should cautiously be released on to the pond with your swan. Have a rescue craft (boat, kayack, canoe) ready in the event a rescue is needed. If either swan is being beaten or constantly chased, not allowed in or out of the water, the pairing is not working and you will need to find the new swan a safe and good home. You will need to have some way of temporarily identifying the new swan from your swan. Leg or neck bands can be used, but these identification tools can cause an injury to the birds if they become entangled with something in the habitat, therefore should be used temporarily or not at all.

    Yes, the male can bond and mate with its female offspring. Swans are not mammals, so their is very limited possibility of any genetic abnormalities occurring from this pairing. The major issue is that swans do not sexually mature until 2 years of age. For this reason, the male could significantly injure the young swan during breeding. It is for this reason that the younger swans should be seperated from the older swans at 6-8 months of age.

    We hope this info is of benefit. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Buying A Water Platform #62563

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Tony

    Please contact Bob Knox at Knox Swans and Dogs. He sells ready made floating nesting boxes for swans. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: Temperatures that swans and other waterfowl can live at #62264

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Matthew

    Mute Swans are built for cold temperatures becsuse they are Northern hemisphere swans. Southern hemisphere swans such as Australian Black Swans cannot suvive in colder temperatures.

    Although we cannot give you precise temperatures, we can state that swans or other waterfowl cannot survive any great length of time in iced-in waters. Ice is the greatest danger as food resources are scarce to non-existent which is why supplemental feeding is critical.

    Ice prevents the birds from eating and drinking. Starvation and dehydration can occur. These and other stresses can induce illnesses such as avian flu and pneumonia.

    Furthermore, if the ice should break and the birds cannot get out of the freezing water, they can die from drowning and hypothermia.

    Lastly, ice can cause the birds to freeze on to the ice or prevent their escape from predators. Predators can walk across stretches of ice to attack and kill birds or other wildlife trapped on the ice.

    It is for these reasons and more that birds migrate. It is captive waterfowl that are in the most danger during extreme cold temperatures.

    Starvation can only take a few days to render the birds ill or dead. This is why we tell pond owners to use aerators/de-icers during the winter months. These devices move the water and prevent ice. When using aerators and de-icers, they must be used consistently at the first sign of a freeze and you must ensure that any moving parts, straps, ropes or other possible entanglement parts are placed in an area or housed in a compartment that are inaccessible to the birds. We hope that this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan Foundation

    in reply to: Research results breed feeding to swans #62176

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Claudia

    Glad we were able to connect. We look forward to receiving your information. The Regal Swan

    in reply to: feeding bread to swans #61660

    Swan Expert
    Keymaster

    Hi Martin

    Just because you ask for donations, does not necessarily mean you receive donations.

    Out of pocket means that we have directly paid for the research ourselves. We decided at the onset that we were going to conduct research regardless if funding was not available, which it wasn’t in most cases. In the vaccine titre testing and blood chemistry, we sought sponsorships from three laboratories to conduct the tests. There were two important reasons for this, one, we did not have the facilities to conduct the tests and second, the equipment, protocols and vaccines were proprietary under the various drug companies. We personnally paid for all other research costs to include equipment, printing of relevant charts and other documents, phone expenses, travel, meals, hotel accommodations, fuel, rental cars or buses (to transport staff and equipment).

    The sponsorship by Proctor and Gamble was an in-kind donation of Dawn Dish Soap and Fairy Washing-up Liquid. This was a necessary part of the research. Through DNA Sequencing and other testing, we established that bacteria caused the condition. Since we found no internal related bacteria, it was readily determined that the bacteria was external (topical). We then, had to develop a means to remove the bacteria and someone mentioned various products along with P&G soap products as they had been safely used in wildlife to remove oil from petroleum spills. We contacted Proctor and Gamble to procure samples of Fairy Liquid in the U.S. so testing of both products could begin as well as other products (non-P&G) that could theoretically be used. We had to conduct additional testing to determine if there were specific ingredients within the various products tested which would show efficacy against the bacteria and identify the specific agent(s). Once that testing was completed, we were able to positively recommend and identify specific ingredients that showed efficacy and the (P&G) products were chosen. Finally, we asked P&G to sponsor several caseloads of Fairy Liquid to be used in the U.K. to wash affected swans along the Thames in an expanded field test. Swans affected with the bacteria were taken to a swan sanctuary where many volunteers began washing the swans and the swans were kept for one week at the sanctuary to test for further efficacy. At the end of the trials, we donated the unused soap product to a U.K. swan sanctuary. We hope this information is of benefit. The Regal Swan

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