The Mute Swan is native to Europe, and is one of the worlds largest and heaviest flying birds. Pairs of Mute Swans can be quite aggressive during breeding season, which starts in late February. During this time, they will act aggressively toward anything that they perceive as a threat. They may attempt to bite and or use their wings to remove everyone and everything from their area, including their caretakers. During mating season, swans can be dangerous to small children, the elderly or even your pets.
The Mute Swan's threat display consist of raising the secondary feathers of the wing, presumably in order to make the bird look as large and menacing as possible. People that only want to own swans for ornamental purposes, may choose to purchase a pair of the same sex, two males or two females, thus their will be much less aggressive behavior.
While swans may be aggressive to other larger birds such as geese, they often do not mind smaller waterfowl such as ducks, and will often tolerate them nesting only a few feet form their own nest. However swans have been reported to attack smaller species that are white in color during the breeding season, therefore birds such as white calls should not be kept with them. If you are interested in purchasing swans to keep geese off a lake or pond, please keep the following things in mind. Swans will be most aggressive once they have had some time to settle in and begin to claim a territory to defend. Pairs may not begin to chase geese until mating season begins (late February). Older pairs generally will be more aggressive than younger pairs. Younger pairs may not chase geese until they have an interest in breeding, which can be at 2-4 years of age. Same sex pairs and single swans may not ever be effective in chasing geese away.
Aside from the breeding season these birds are fairly docile and even semi tame. They are often kept on open water as the large and powerful mute swan, does not fear most predators that commonly prey on smaller waterfowl species. General care of swans is much like that of geese. These birds are very cold hardy and do not need any type of structure built for them to protect them from winter weather.They do however need to have some open water year round. In regions where large ponds and lakes freezer over regularly a blubber or a fountain may be useful to keep water moving and keep it from freezing.
Although swans can often get much natural food from there pond or lake, we do recommend providing them with supplemental feed especially in the winter. Birds that get hungry will often wander in search of food. Swans love to graze and owners should make sure no toxic chemicals or pesticides are used on any grass that the birds have access to.
Fencing while usually not a necessity will be of help if there are areas close to your pond or lake that you do not want the birds to wander into, such as a busy highway, a neighbors yard or a nearby lake, river or other body of water.
If you are introducing swans onto a large body of water it may be helpful to hold them in a temporary enclosure for 1-2 weeks before release. Their feeding station sound be in the enclosure and remain in the same spot once the enclose is taken down. Preferably this enclose should extend into the lake or pond so they will have access to swimming water. This will help the swans learn where their feeder is.
Only one pair of these birds can be kept per pond, unless they are on a very large body of water with room for their large territories even then pairs may still fight. Offspring are usually only tolerated until the next breeding season. If the young are not removed by the following spring the parents will try to chase them off or may even kill them.
Mutes are also not compatible with other swan species, and if kept in close proximity to other swans they should not be able to see or hear them.
Males and females look alike, with males usually being larger and having a more pronounced knob at the base of the bill. Pairs normally bond for life, but will except a new mate, if theirs is lost. Breeding may occur their second Spring, but many pairs do not mate until they are three or even four years of age. Nests are usually very large some measuring as much as 8 ft across. Clutches consist of 4-8 very large greenish blue eggs. The females called "Pens" normally are good broodies and will incubate and hatch their own eggs. The males called "Cobs"will take the females place on the nest when she is absent. The eggs will hatch after an incubation period of about 36 days. Both parents help rear the young which are called "Cygnets". One endearing trait of this species is their tendency to let their young ride on their backs. If the Cygnets are taken from the parents, they are raised in much the same way as Goslings would be. Cygnets grow quickly, and should not be fed feed that is too high in protein, they also need access to swimming water, and plenty of greens for them to develop properly. Angel wing and bowed legs, can be results of improper feeding not enough exercise.
If you decide to keep a male / female pair of swans on a large body of water, please make sure to have plans as to how you will catch and pinion the babies. There are now large feral populations of Mute swans in many states, and these non native birds are destroying the habitat of native species. This has caused some states to band ownership of these beautiful birds.
Parents will drive their young away at the beginning of the next breeding season if they are not pinioned they will fly away and add to this problem. Here at Mallard Lane Farms we will often buy the offspring of pairs of swans that we have sold. Typically we will pay $150- $200 per bird for young swans that are pinioned. We will also buy unpinioned birds, however they are wroth less. If you have young swans you would like to sell please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org