A site dedicated to the proper care and general information of mute swans
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IT IS IMPORTANT TO KEEP YOUR
FULL WING SWANs and CYGNETs GROUNDED.

Prevent Your Beautiful Swans from Flying Away.

                              Click on Images to Enlarge

Clipping Swan Cygnet

Clipping Captive Swan Pets 

IF YOUR SWANs and CYGNETs are Pinioned
you Never Need to DO THIS !!!

Full Wing Mute Swan

Adult Swans that were NOT Pinioned are Generally Capable of Flying unless they are Clipped to keep them Grounded.

Unpinioned Mute Swan Cygnet

PREVENT YOUR YOUNG UNPINIONED CYGNETs
from LEARNING TO FLY.

The Cygnet above was Hatch in the Wild and Rescued.

Cygnets are Capable of Flight once their Wing Feathers
are Fully Developed – around 15-16 Weeks Old.

Mute Cygnet First Wing Feathers

This will differ when Cygnets are Not Feed a Good Diet.

Swan Cygnet 84 Days Old

It Helps to Record the Date Cygnets Hatch..

Mute Swan Cygnet 5 Months Old

Clipping is NOT as Effective as a Proper Pinioning..

Swan Never Learned to Fly
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DISCLAIMER
If you have ANY Doubt about Clipping yourself, check with your Veterinarian who works with Birds and see if they will help you at least the First Time.

I will not assume any responsibility if you do not read and understand all these Instructions or do not take the time to fully understand Wing Anatomy..
or Understand the RISK of Cutting into a Blood Feathers.

Mute Swan Blood Feathers Cut

This Young Swan DID NOT Survive the Blood Loss. 

Mute Swan Blood Feathers Cut

        The Person who did this
had NO IDEA what they were Doing ! 

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***CLIPPING WINGs – Safe, if done very carefully.

The Goal is to keep the Swan/Cygnet off balance when they try to Fly..

Mute Swan Cygnet Clipped

Clipping is a NON-Surgical alternative to Surgically Pinioning the Primary Flight Feather Section on ONE Wing. This Method only lasts until Flight Feathers are replaced during the Swan’s Annual Moult.

Mute Cygnet Clipped

Clipping Feathers does not Trigger New Primary Flight Feathers to Grow.  A Feather that is Pulled will Regrow.

Ideally you will be Clipping/Cutting (5) Primary Flight Feathers above the level of the Primary Coverts, so almost the entire Feather is removed, leaving about 2-3 inches of Shaft still visible beyond the Skin Follicle.

Top Side Mute Swan Wing

Looking from the UNDERSIDE of the Wing:

Underside of Swan Wing
If there is any Pink-Purple in the Feather Shaft, it would be Safer to Cut/Clip 6-8 Primary Flight Feather on One Wing short of any Coloration…           ONLY Cut where the Shaft is White..
CLIP One Feather at a Time.. and WATCH for Any Bleeding..
(STOP if you See ANY BLOOD.)
Do what is Necessary to STOP ANY Bleeding.

Wait for the Feather Shafts to turn Opaque
– Maybe One to Three Weeks..
and Cut/Clip 5 of the Flight Feathers shorter.

Clipped Wing Feathers

Mute Swan Clipped

If you Acquire New Swans or Cygnets that are still Full-Wing,
Clipping or Pulling Primary Flight Feathers can be useful until you arrange to have a Veterinarian Surgically Pinion your Cygnets/Swans.

Full Wing Mute Swan
This will Prevent them from “Taking to Air” and flying away ! !

Mute Swans Flew Away

Full Wing Mute Swan
Clipping is Effective until the next Moult..

Mute Cygnet Clipped
Pulled Feathers will GROW BACK in about 4-6 Weeks.

Cable Tie Leg Band

This can also give you time to send Samples for DNA-Sex Testing.
Make sure you can identify Individual Cygnets/Swans when submitting multiple DNA Samples.

Colored Cable Ties

DO NOT SEND the Cut Primary Wing Feathers for DNA Testing.
Feathers to send for DNA Testing must be freshly pulled from the Birds’ Skin.

Check the Information about DNA-Sex Testing on this Page.
Determine the Sex of Swans by DNA
http://swanlovers.net/category/new-swan-owner-information/sex-swans-cygnets-dna/

5 – 6 Body Contour Feathers from the Breast area are a good Sample.  The Testing Lab needs the Tissue Material inside the Quill of a live Feather for their DNA-Sex Testing.

Fresh Pulled Swan Feathers

Moulted or Cut Feathers do not have this live Tissue.

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Anatomy Birds Wing

Study a Diagram of a Bird’s Wing and learn the Names
of the different Wing Feathers and their location.

SWAN Wing Feather Anatomy

Mute Cygnet Wing Feather Anatomy

Moulted Swan Feathers

If you have a Cygnet/Swan with Clipped Wings, watch for their Moult to start. You will think a Feather Pillow Exploded. The very Large Flight Feathers falling out will be a BIG Clue. Swans go into a “Shabby Stage.”

Shabby Stage of Swan Moult

You may see the thick Feather Shafts of the Old Clipped Feathers on the Ground or floating on the Pond.

Clipped Swan Feathers

Female and Male Swans Moult at different, slightly over- lapping times.

Female Swan Moulting

It will take several weeks for the New Primary Flight Feathers to grow in.
They will need to become firm before the Swan is able to Fly..
This firming only takes a week to 10 days.
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Clipping Feathers is Quick and Simple to do.
***Supplies to have On Hand For Clipping:

*** BEST to Work with TWO (2) PEOPLE
Swans are difficult to Control Alone.
One Person to Hold Cygnet/Swan with a *Large Bath Towel.
…AND One to carefully Clip/Cut the Flight Feathers.

Fluffy Bath Towels

*** DO NOT HOLD
the Rib Cage area of a Cygnet/Swan TOO Tight..   
Swans need to move their Ribs to Breathe.
If they can not Breathe, they will struggle more.

***A Pair of *Blunt End Scissors that Cut a Drinking Straw easily. You do not want dull Scissors, you want a Quick Smooth Cut.

***A Sturdy Pair of Needle Nose Pliers
                                – (tweezers are not strong enough).
Just in case you need to Pull a Feather that Bleeds
and will NOT STOP ! !
*** Read about Pulling a Blood Feather so you are Prepared.  The WebSite below is One of Several.

Foster and Smith PetEducation.com Broken Blood Feathers
http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=15+1912&aid=269
1

***Clean Corn Starch (seems to be preferably)
or (White) Flour.

IF a Feather Shaft BLEEDs.. STUFF this Clean White Powdery Material into the Hollow Shaft. Hold the End Securely for 5-10 minutes.
***WATCH it does not Start to Bleed Again.

Pushing Powdery Material into the Bleeding Feather Shaft
(Corn Starch – Flour – Wonder Dust – Last Resort Kwik Stop)
give the Blood tiny Particles to help form a Clot.

No Matter what might cause a Bird/Swan to Bleed…
Keep the Bird/Swan as Calm as Possible.
The more a Bird Struggles the more it will Bleed.

BIRDS do not have Reserve Blood in their Body..
They are Streamlined for Flight.
ANY Bleeding for ANY Bird can become Serious VERY Fast.

*** You may not need these Things.. but, good to have ready.
A Small Pack of Q-Tips. Clean Paper Towels.
A Gallon of Clean Cold Water. A Small Bowl to Work from.

***A Working Surface at a Comfortable Height.
OR a Comfortable Washable Chair. (And Washable Shoes)

***Your Avian Veterinarian’s Phone Number
. ( Just in Case.)

***WONDER DUST***
Found at most Farm Supply Stores.. like Tractor Supply.
This will ALSO helps to Stop Bleeding – Plus it is Medicated.

Wonder Dust

http://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/farnam-wonder-dust-wound-powder-4-oz

OR AS a LAST RESORT TO STOP ANY BLEEDING
*** KWIK Stop*** as a LAST RESORT..

Kwik Stop Styptic Powder
Found at Most Pet Supply Stores.

GREAT Care Must be Used to prevent the Swans from Ingesting this Material. It Quickly become Solid as a Stone..
and could become an Obstruction in a Swan’s Mouth or Throat.
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*** CHECK the Feathers you Plan to Clip Carefully.

Underside Swan Wing

There are 10 Primary Flight Feathers on each Wing.

For a nice appearance – Skip the first Primary Feathers   (#9-#10)
Then choose 5 from the remaining 8 to Clip.
If you need to Clip/Cut very New Blood Feather……
&&&&&& DO NOT CUT as Short, Trim a few more. 7-8

Underside Swan Wing
*** NEVER Cut into the Shaft Section-Area containing a Blood Supply.

ANATOMY MUTE SWAN Feathers

The Quill is the part of the Feather Shaft up inside the Skin Follicle. The Blood Vessel will remain Active in the Quill longer then in the Shaft.

 

For several weeks (varies) after Primary Wing Feathers grow in there will be a Blood Supply flowing through the Feather Shaft and Quill.

New Mute Wing Feathers

The Section of Feather Shaft closest to the Quill will appear Pink or Slightly Purple.
***NEVER CUT FEATHERs
                                      Where YOU SEE THIS Coloration.

***ONLY CLIP/Cut the Shaft where it is Opaque White.
***CLIP/CUT ONE FEATHER AT A TIME…
***Watch for ANY Bleeding before Cutting another Feather.

*** DO NOT CLIP TOO SHORT... or Too Long either.

SWAN Clipped Wing Feathers
Clip/Cut just up under the Primary Covert Feathers
so the Cut Edge will be covered. (Ideal)
At this level the Risk of there being an Active Blood Supply in the Shaft is much less then closer to the Skin Follicle.

***If you see Pink or Purple in the Shafts,
you MUST Clip/Cut the Feather Shafts longer to avoid Blood Vessels.  Leaving the Feather longer then you might want.

***IF there are Blood Feather and you can not CLIP up under the Primary Covert Feathers….

Mute Swan Blood Feathers
Measure 1-1/2 to 2 inches back from the Pink-Purple Coloration
to where the Shaft is Opaque White.

Cygnet Clipped Wing
You will want to Clip/Cut across several more Primaries (7-8).
This will leave the Cut Edge uncovered by the Primary Covert Feathers.

You will want to Clip these Feathers shorter in Two to Three Weeks,
once the Blood Vessels have Atrophied, leaving more White Shaft.

Clipped Swan Feathers

The Goal is to keep the Swan/Cygnet off balance when they try to Fly..

Swan Cygnet Grounded

If Feather Stumps are present beyond the Lower Edge of the Primary Coverts they may irritate the Swan during Preening, causing significant discomfort.

Mute Swan Preening

The Cygnet/Swan may Chew and Tug at these Cut Shaft Ends until they Pull them Out. Then a New Feather will Grow…( OH NO ! )
Remote – BUT Possible..
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*** THE BEST SPOT to CLIP – ( IDEAL is not always Possible.)
Cut the Primary Flight Feathers at the point where the Feather Barbules begin on the Shaft of the Primary Flight Feathers.
Leaving Few Barbules on the Shaft.

SWAN Clipped Wing Feathers

*** Leave the remaining Primary Feather Shaft and Quill in the Skin Follicle.

***(once trimmed up under the Primary Coverts)
There may be as much as 4-6 inches of Feather Shaft remaining.
2-3 Inches of Round Semi-Hollow Opaque White Shaft
and 2-3 Inches of the Quill up inside the Skin Follicle.

The Quill is the part of the Feather Shaft up inside the Skin Follicle.

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*** NEVER Clip/Trim Secondaries

Do Not Clip Swan Secondaries
It is sufficient to Clip FIVE Primary Flight Feathers
                                                        – One Wing Only.

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The Method of Clipping for Ducks is Different then for Swans…
It is Recommended that the Secondary Wing Feathers are Clipped.
IF a Swan’s Secondary Wing Feathers are Clipped.. they can still Fly.

Wing Clipping may appear to be an alternative to Pinioning, but Wing Clipping is not always reliable.

The Annual Moult may occur earlier or later then anticipated.
You may miss your chance to do this Annually.

Female and Male Swans do not Moult at the same time.. generally
about a month apart. The Females “Generally” Moult first..
and 3-4 weeks later the Male Swans will begin their Moult.

A Swan in Poor Health may Moult over an extended period of time…
when its body does not have the Nutrients to grow all new Feathers
in the normal Moult Cycle.

Mute Swan Moulting

A Swan that has partially re-grown New Flight Feathers may
be able to fly away for short Distance.

Wing Clipping may create a “False Sense of Security.”
Clipped Swans, if spooked, are still capable of a short, powerful burst of flight.

A properly done Clip only trims the Feathers and not the Wings.
It is painless and temporary, lasting only until the next Moult.

Mute Swans Flying

Better to Clip a Full-Wing Swans then Watch them Fly Away..

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In the past, to preserve the Symmetric Beauty of both Swan Wings,
Swan Owners/Keepers might decide to Clip rather then permanently deform their Swans by Pinioning.

Mute Swan NOT Pinioned

Mute Swan NOT Pinioned

The HOPE was/is, if a Cygnet does not learn to Fly during their First
Two/Three Years they will not know how or try to Fly.

This may work with a Large Percentage of Swans..
It is Better then remaining Full-Wing All Feathers Intact.

Swans are Spectacular in Flight.. Breathtaking.
but, seeing them Fly AWAY is not.

Mute Swans Fly Away

*** Once Swans learn to Fly… all Bets are OFF.
They will know “the World is a Bigger Place” then their Pond.

All Swans will Play-Chase and Flap-Run across their Water…

Mute Cygnets Play Chasing
But, in the FALL… when there are Stiff Cool Breezes..
or in the Spring when it is time to look for Nesting Sites..
They get a “Glint in their Eyes”.. and want to Fly.

You can be Comforted that 5 mostly missing Primary Flight Feathers will keep your Swans Grounded.  It works..

Mute Swans Fly Away
They can not get their balance.. and can not “Take to Air”..

Mute Swan Wing-Tipping
Swans need the Exercise. It is good for their Hearts to “Wing-Tip.”
Their Wing-Tips touch the Water Surface as they Flutter-Run..

I LOVE to see them do this.. They will often do this together..
Play-Chasing..
It happens so QUICK, my Camera is usually not ready.

Mute Swan Running on Water

Turn toward your Pond when you HEAR the Slapping of BIG Webbed Feet.

Mute Swan Running on Water
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FROM: http://www.birdsnways.com/wisdom/ww25ev.htm
*** There is a Physiological Component as well as a Psychological
Component when one considers how important Flight Feathers are to any Bird’s Safety and Life.

A damaged Feather reduces Flight Efficiency and Interferes with Escape from Danger. Birds/Swans appear to be quite concerned about these Clipped “half” Feathers.
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Clipping Swan Cygnets
For Management of a large flock of Swans it may be very difficult for
a Keeper to identify, catch, and Clip each Swan at the proper time.

Assorted Swans

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United States WildLife Department of Natural
Resources (WDNR) Regulations requiring Captive Swans be Pinioned, the practice of Clipping should only be a temporary measure until you can arrange for your Swan to be Pinioned by a qualified Avian Veterinarian.

Mute Swan Pinioned

Have this Information ready when you are preparing to have the
Swans/Cygnets Surgically Pinioned.  Their DNA-Sex Test Result.

DNA-Sex Result Cygnet

** Females Pinion the Right Wing.
** Males Pinion the Left Wing.

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THEND Soar once More

This Information is a Work in Progress…..
As I learn more I will add to this information..
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Compiled by (C) L.M.Sweger Date September 2016
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