Ask the Swan Specialist

Re: Clipping Swans Feathers & Breeding
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 16 March 2018
In Response To: Clipping Swans Feathers & Breeding (Dave)

Hi Dave

You need to have a licensed avian (bird) veterinarian show you how to clip the feathers. You only clip one wing so the swan is off balance and cannot fly. Clip both wings and you have defeated the purpose and the swan may be able to fly off-balance. He won't be able to get very high, but will still be able to fly.

Feather clipping should be conducted every 4 months, more if the feathers grow quickly.

Pinioning is a permanent amputation of the flight portion of one wing. The older the bird, the more difficult the procedure as swans must be anesthesized after weeks of age to complete the procedure. Remember, this is an amputation and the surgical procedure should be conducted by a licensed veterinarian. Birds do not always do well under anesthesia and can die during or because of the pinioning procedure. Pinioning should always be conducted between 1-3
weeks of age because of these reasons.

Breeding can begin at 2 or 3 years of age and most nesting/breeding season is in the springtime, usually in March. There is no guarantee that the swans will use any nesting boxes in the water, however, you should build a pen (totally enclosed top to bottom so predators cannot dig under or climb over into the pen and attack the swans. The pen must be 1/2 in the water and 1/2 on land so the swans can bathe, feed and preen. Nesting material (straw) should be placed on a portion of the dry land inside the pen. Water depth should be adequate for swimming and bathing.. There should be a zero entrance for access in and out of the water with no steep areas or abrasive materials which can damage swans' feet and legs. This is especially true for cygnets and if severe can result in death. Plastic poultry fencing should be placed from the bottom rail of the pen and run up to 4 feet in height for the entire perimeter of the pen. This will prevent predators such as raccoons from reaching in and grabbing eggs or cygnets. It will also prevent the cygnets from crawing through the pen and becoming seperated from the parents. A feeder should be placed inside the pen away from the nest and in the water. Poultry layer pellets , cracked corn and finely chopped lettuce should be fed to the swans. Corn provides necessary Vitamin A which prevents neurological problems in tbe cygnets. The family should be kept in the pen for at least 4 weeks after hatching. Then, all swans should be released onto the pond.

Not having a breeding pen on the lake is going to leave the family susceptible to predator attack which can ultimately lead to death. Since you are preventing the parents from flying, they will have no way to protect themselves or the cygnets. Cornfields and banks do not provide safe areas for swans, especially the cygnets which can drown if they cannot get out of the water. Cornfields provide food resources for many animals and swan nests are asking to be attacked by raccoons, coyotes, foxes, etc. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

If you see the swans starting to pull at grasses or other nesting material, you need to capture and place the swans in the breeding pen. Some swans will not lay eggs in pens, but you at least ensure that the parents are not killed while sitting on the nest in a field.

On another note, many states in the U.S. are killing Mute Swans so that the larger Trumpeter Swans can be introduced for Trophy Waterfowl hunting. You may need a breeder's permit if your swans are breeding and you will also need to find safe suitable homes for the cygnets once they start being chased prior to the next breeding season. Eventually, you will get to the point that you have to find other homes for the cygnets due to the decreased habitat resources and constant fighting. Again, this may require a breeding and ownership license. We hope this informationo n is of benefit. The Regal Swan

Messages In This Thread

Clipping Swans Feathers & Breeding -- Dave -- 15 March 2018
Re: Clipping Swans Feathers & Breeding -- The Regal Swan -- 16 March 2018