A site dedicated to the proper care and general information of mute swans

Determine the Sex of Swans by DNA

January 20th, 2015 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in Determine the Sex of Swans-Cygnets by DNA - (Comments Off on Determine the Sex of Swans by DNA)

Whether you are Looking for a Swan
to Replace One 
you have Lost,
Selling Swans or Cygnets to ReHome them,

Swans DNA-Sex Testing

Determining the Sex of Swans by DNA

Click Images to Enlarge 

Before you Pinion a Tiny Cygnet:
TRY to Determine the Cygnet’s Sex first, if possible.
Vent Check if You know what to look for.

Tiny Mute Swan Cygnets

If you know a Person who knows how to Vent Check..
ASK for Help.

Vent Sexing Cygnets is not 100% Accurate.
If you find Male Parts/the tiny Penis..
Then you have a Male.. Pinion the Left Wing.
Sex Determination for Swans

If you can NOT find the Penis..
that does not mean you have a Female.
For 29 + Years, everyone THOUGHT “Princess” was a Female.
“Prince” formerly “Princess” and “Victoria” have SEVEN Tiny Cygnets..

Mute Swan Cygnets

It is difficult to find the tiny Penis in Cygnets.. it might be missed.
During the First 10 Days after Hatching, it is suggested that the Penis is larger due to the Cygnets elevated Hormones.

Mute Swan Cygnets      General Visual Appearance is NOT Dependable.
They Look Alike ! !

Female Mute Swans All Cygnets that might be Female (Maybe Male) should be DNA Checked…

At least Pinion the Right Wing.
BETTER to Pinion a Wing when they are Tiny then NOT.

Pinion Cygnets

ASK Your AVIAN Veterinarian for Instructions.
MANY Veterinarians have Never Pinioned Cygnets.
Suggest they Review this Topic Page.
This Information will Help.

Pinioning is Permanent

ASK SOMEONE who KNOWs How to PINION Safely. 

TO Pinion an Older Cygnet or Adult Swan is Time Consuming
and Hard on them and their Owners.  It is only safely done by an Avian Veterinarian who preforms this Procedure.

Surgical Pinion Swan
It is VERY Helpful to know when the Cygnets Hatched.
Then you will Know how Old they are. Mute Swan CygnetsSwan Cygnets LESS then 10-14 Days Old have ONE Tiny Capillary, ONE Tiny Nerve and Soft Cartilage in the Distal Wing Tip.  Pinioning at this time is the Safest for the Cygnets.

Young Swan CygnetsMute Swan CygnetsMute Swan Cygnets

DNA Swan CygnetBe Sure to USE some method of keeping track of which Cygnet is which.  And which Brood they have Come from.

The Cygnets in this Image are
from THREE Different Broods. 

Change ID Bands as they Grow.. They Grow FAST ! Mute Cygnets
Mute Swan Cygnets DNA

The Color of a Cygnets will NOT Determine their Sex..
There are Royal Male and Female Cygnets/Swans.
There are Polish Male and Female Cygnets/Swans.Mute Swan CygnetsFrom Three Different sets of Parents.


Cygnets can be Sent for DNA-Sex Testing.

********* PLEASE READ Below  *********


From Gazette
Discussion of Sexing Birds by Vent Checking


Direct from WEBSITE.
The best thing is to get another Breeder who is an Expert at Vent Sexing to help you and supervise you until you’ve picked up the knack of it.

Most Ducks are very easy to Sex while the Geese and Swans resist you more, that is tighten their Vent Muscles so that it is most difficult to invert their Cloacal Region so their Inner Sex Parts come into plain view. Perhaps the best time to Sex any Water-Fowl is when they are a week or two old, and some say best results are achieved at just 3-4 days old.

Experience indicates that Vent Sexing is best done in the Spring on Adult Birds, when the Sex Organs are beginning to swell.
At this time of year the gentle manual manipulation of a Male’s Vent will cause sensitive twitching and reflex movement.
This does not occur when handling Female Water Fowl and is a good indicator of Sex in my judgement, but as mentioned before, an Expert can apply the right amount of pressure and easily
cause the Vent to invert itself and expose the Inner Sex Parts so that there is no doubt as to Sex.

Check the drawings that illustrate Vent Sexing in various publications so you know what to look for, and the Penis on a Male will stick out especially when the right manipulation of the anal region is applied, so there is really no guess work involved when done right.

Also, before doing Vent Sexing for the first time, it is my recommendation that you first consult with and receive instruction from an Avian Veterinarian.
End of Quote from Gazette Article

I wish I had found someone who could do the above Vent Sexing Method. But, “Woe is me”… TOO Many Mistakes occurred..
Even with Years of Experience.  WE DO NOT Guess – we DNA.

I have read that Vent Checking can result in injury to the Cloaca Sphincter.  It would be easy to scratch the tiny Sphincter trying to manipulate it.

Mute Swan CygnetSO…. I prefer to spare the Cygnet/Swan and do the DNA-Sex Testing.
Vent Sexing Swans/Cygnets is NOT Fool-Proof..
A Percentage will be WRONG..
If you Find Male Parts – Penis – Great..
But, if you do not find the Tiny Penis,
–                                you can not be sure you have a Female.

If you Introduce a Second Male by Mis-Sexing a Swan….
View the Video Link Below…  This is NOT a Swan Ballet.



Ducks have a real Penis…. Swans not so….


Ballistic Penises and Corkscrew Vaginas
– The Sexual Battles of Ducks

Swan are NOT similar to Ducks or Geese.
Male Swans do not have a Penetrating Sex Organ.
The Size of the Structure which transfers Serum is affected by the Current Hormone Level in the Male Swan.Mature Male Mute Swan
How Chickens Lost Their Penises
(And Ducks Kept Theirs)

Welsummer Roosterhttp://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/06/06/how-chickens-lost-their-penises-ducks-kept-theirs/

Over the Years I have talked with Some Folks who Suggest comparing a Swan or Cygnet’s Size, Vocal Pitch, Behavior will help them Identity the Males and Females.
– All Subjective.

Mute Swan Cygnet
This was One Time we Guessed Correctly.
Then we DID the DNA to be Sure.

Mature Mute Swans

The Knob of both Male and Female Mutes changes through the Year as the Swan’s Hormones Increase/Decease annually..

Female Mute Swan Knob

Same Female Mute Swan Before Nesting & After Nesting Season.

Female Mute Swan Knob
The Knob on a Mute Swan will Change as their Weight Changes.
Healthy Swans tend to have larger Knobs

Mute Swan Knob
– Underweight Swans have Smaller Knobs.

Underweight Mute Swan

I do KNOW if a Swan lays an Egg… that is a Female..
A Healthy Female Swan needs to be at least 3 Years Old before she will lay an Egg.

Female Mute Nesting

I know of any number of Situations where a Pond had two Males or two Females..
NOT a Female / Male Breeding Pair.
The Swan Owners were Frustrated there were NO Cygnets..

Young Female SwansThere were Never any Cygnets – But there were EGGs.

If you are interested…
I will share some OOPs Anecdotes at the End of this Page.
Stories of Mis-Sexed Swans..
There are MORE with each Passing Year.

Same Sex Male SwansThe Above Image – Turned out to be TWO Males.
Mute Swans

The Advances in DNA Testing = Reliable Sexing Results.
is by DNA-Sex Testing.

There are Several Types of Samples that may be Submitted for Testing.

These are Examples of FEATHERs.

Feathers For DNA

Each Type of Sample needs to be Handled Properly to Protect the Sample’s Integrity.

AvianBiotech.com Avian Sexing Center – Learn More.

Mute Swan Cygnet

Very Young Cygnet do not have Feathers and can not be Feather DNA-Sex Tested.
Down is not Acceptable for Testing.

True Feathers will start Emerging around 8 Weeks.
Too late for you to Know their Sex when you Tie or Cut Pinion…

True Swan FeathersIt is BETTER to Pinion when they are Tiny
or without Knowing their Sex.

Try to Pinion FEMALEs on RIGHT WING Tip – the Distal Wing
**** ONE WING ONLY ****
Pinion MALEs on LEFT WING Tip – the Distal Wing
**** ONE WING ONLY ****

Pinioned Mute Swan

THERE IS NO NEED to Pinion Both Wings.
The Goal is to Keep the Swans OFF Balancc.

If you are VERY LUCKY.. all your Cygnets will Survive..
That is Generally not the Case.

Mute Swan Family These Swans had Six Cygnets Hatch.  Now there are just Three.

Predators will claim many Tiny Fuzzy Cygnets.

Great Blue Heron
The most Common – Red-tailed Hawks, Snapping Turtles, Owls, Great Blue Herons.

Polish Mute Swans

From Experience, there is a Wisdom in Collecting a Sample if you have a chance. Identify the Cygnet/Swan and ID the Sample well.
Store as the Avian Diagnostic Lab. instructs.. and wait until the Cygnets are about 4 Months Old to send the Samples for Testing.
NO Point having Results for Cygnets that have not survived.

Polish Mute Swans This Swan Family started with Six Cygnets, now just Three.

I wish this was more Straight Forward..
but, Determining the Sex of Cygnets and Swans is a Challenge.Mute Swans

WEEKS Before the Cygnets are Scheduled to Hatch.

Once the (Pen) Female starts to “Sit” full time, mark your Calendar and count 35 – *37 Days.  On Day 35 you might be able to hear the Tiny Cygnets in the Shell “Pipping.”  If all goes as planned they will start to Hatch on Day *37.  YEAH !!!

Nesting Female Mute Swan
Collect Your Supplies so you are READY.
Check with Family or Friend – who will be willing to Help.
EXTRA Hands are Important.

Speak with Some One in the Avian Testing Lab,
If this is your First Time to Collect DNA Samples.
Become Informed of ALL Your Options:

Cygnet Wing Tips – Blood Dots – * Feathers – Others.

Order or Ask them to send you a Dozen Collection Kits.

SWAN DNA-Test Kits
OR Make you own Sample Kits.
Clean ZipLoc Bags.. For Feather Samples.

SWAN DNA-Test Kits

Clean White Paper Towel Squares Prepared for a Drop of Fresh Blood.
Draw a 1/2 Circle to fill with a Drop of Blood.SWAN DNA-Test Kits

When you Pinion a Cygnet, there may be a Drop of Fresh Blood.

AVIAN Biotech Main Office in the U.S.A.

Avian Biotech International
Toll Free: 1-800-514-9672
Fax: 1-850-386-1146
Email:  https://www.animalgenetics.us/about-us.php#contactform
1336 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL 32312-1766


Outside the U.S.: 1-850-386-1145


A Printable Submission Form is Available on AnimalGenetic WebSite.

With Cygnets Older then 8 Weeks..
I suggest you pay the extra $5.00 to have a DNA-Sex Test
done with Feathers – fee $24.50 (with Postage – $25.00)

Mute Swan Cygnets

INSTRUCTIONS.. for Submitting a Feather Sample.

AnimalGenetics – AVIAN BioTech has instructions on their WebSite
for proper collection of Samples.
Feathers must be Plucked..    Not picked up. No Moulted Feathers.

Moulting Swan

Various Methods of Avian DNA Sex Testing 

AVIAN DNA SEX TESTING by Feather Samples.

This would mean a tiny spot will have Open Skin exposed.
Avoid allowing Cygnets to go back in the Pond for 1 -2 hours..
ESPECIALLY, if there are Snapping Turtles in their Water.

ANY Bleeding is to be cared for and completely STOPPED.
I have used Clean Corn Starch and Clean White Flour as an Aid to Stop MINOR Bleeding.
WONDER DUST has been recommended..  Works Well !!Wonder Dust

There is additional Information for Wonder Dust at the Bottom of this Page.

Kwik Stop Styptic Powder
Kwik Stop Styptic Powder should be used CAREFULLY as a Last Resort to Stop Bleeding.  DO NOT Allow Ingestion of Kwik Stop.
The Powder will become Rock Hard and May Adhere to the Esophagus.

Pinioned Mute Cygnets

If you can Squeeze a Nice Drop of Blood from the Removed Tip
of the Wing when you Pinion, Soak the Blood Drop onto a VERY CLEAN Paper Towel Square.
Do your Best NOT to Touch the Area to be Soaked with Blood Drop.
Place in a Labeled ZipLoc Bag.

OR Use the Blood Dot Kits Requested from Animal Genetics Inc. 

SWAN DNA-Test Kits

Label carefully, Refrigerate in a DRY Container.
This can be sent in for their DNA-Sex Test..
******************************************Mute Swan cygnetsThese Rescued Cygnets are Eight Weeks Old.  NOT Pinioned !

If you need to take Older Cygnets  (3-12 Weeks Old) to an Avian Veterinarian to be Surgically Pinioned, you will be able to have the Blood Dot Sample Collected from the Wing Tips Removed.Pinion Mute Cygnets
Be Prepared with Blood Dot Submission Kits for Each Cygnet and a way to ID each Cygnet. Pinion Mute CygnetsPinion Mute CygnetsFollow All Post-Op Instruction to Avoid Infections.Pinion Mute CygnetsPinion Mute CygnetsYEAH …. A Mixed Brood.


A Blood Dot Sample fee is $20.00.  (in 2016)
Both Feather and Blood Dot Results take 5-10 days.

I do not like to see holes poked in a Swan’s Feet or Legs to Collect a Blood Dot Sample.
This Greatly Increasing the risk of Painful *Bumble Foot Infections.

Bumble Foot Sore

Beautiful as they are, Swans Walk, Stand and Swim in POOP.

Swan Standing in Poop
The Sores it Causes are TERRIBLE..

Swan Bumble Foot SoreBumble Foot Sores are NO FUN to TREAT !!


The Tiny WING TIP of a Cygnet Pinioned
when less then 10-12 Days, may have a Drop of Blood to Soak onto a Blood Collection Card – or Absorbent Paper Towel.

10 Day Old Mute Swan Cygnet

I checked with AnimalGenetics..   (October 2014)
The Tiny Wing Tip that is Snipped Off when a Cygnet is Pinioned Can be Submitted for the DNA-Sex Testing..
The Wing Tip has an Area of Skin which is Fresh Tissue acceptable for Testing.

Swan Cygnet DNA Sex Testing
IF you have a GOOD way to Identify each Tiny Cygnet Mute Swan Cygnetswhen you Pinion them, you can put each Wing Tip in a Carefully Labeled PAPER ENVELOPE.

Information: DATE Specimen Collected
– Cygnet ID – Your Name
Mute Swan Cygnet DNA

Fill out the Submission Form *Immediately and *Send ASAP
DNA Submission FormANIMAL GENETIC, Inc. and Avian BioTech are the Same Laboratory.

Since we were Hand Raising the Rescued Cygnets Below,
I Sent Drops of Blood when we Pinioned them..
Squeezed from their Wing tips.
Mute Swan Cygnets It is Fun to Know their Sex when they are still Tiny.
OR If you want to wait to send the Wing Tips…

Since several Cygnets may not Survive the first several Months,
it is Practical to Send for the DNA-Sex Testing when the Cygnets are around Three to Four Months Old.


ID the Cygnets SOME WAY…

ID Each Separate *PAPER Envelopes.
Place Only One Wing Tip in each *PAPER Envelope with ID INFO.

I Place a Square of Wax Paper between Each Envelope.
-Just in Case a Little Blood Bleeds through.

Put ALL Pinioned Wing Tips in Separate Envelopes together in a PAPER ENVELOPE.. LABEL.  Separate with Wax Paper.DNA WAX Paper
Put these in the Freezer. They are Good for One Year.
I Checked this with Animal Genetics  (June 2016)

Check with Animal Genetics for Instructions to Send Frozen Samples.  

At Three to Four Months of Age, you will be able to Send the Ones you Need.

Mute Swan cygnets

CHECK Handling Instructions for Sending Frozen Samples.

Mail ALL Labeled Paper Envelopes Inside a Larger Paper Envelope with Submission Form.

Swan Cygnet DNA Sex Testing

Once the Diagnostic Lab. receives your Sample/Samples you will Receive a Message by EMail..

Then in 3-5 Days the EMail Results will be Ready..
So, allow 8-10 Days for Results..

DNA Sex Test Results

A Print-Out and the DNA Sexing Report Certificate will come in the Mail in 2-3 Weeks.

SWAN DNA-Certificate

Example of the Certificate that Avian BioTech Sends.
(I added the Photo)

This DNA-Sex Test with its Certificate increases the Salability of Swans/Cygnets. This information is very desirable to Folks looking for Swans/Cygnets.  NO Guessing the Sex.

There are other Animal Genetic Labs that do this Testing.
This is the Lab I have used for years..

* AVIAN BioTech – Avian Services Center *

AVIAN BioTech / Animal Genetics, Inc. has instructions on their WebSite for proper collection of Samples.
FOR True Feather Samples to Send for DNA-Sex Testing.
Animal Genetics Page for Avian DNA Sexing (Feather)

Feathers must be Plucked..
Do Not picked up Feathers laying on the Ground.
No Loose Moulted Feathers.
The Test is Run on the Pink Skin Flesh that is inside the Quill.
Feathers MUST be Plucked-Pulled from the Live Bird.

SWAN Feathers DNA-Sex Testing
Cygnets must be old enough to have real Feathers.
Down is not acceptable. Feathers will start coming in
when they are around Two – Three Months Old – 60-90 Days.DNA Mute Swan Cgnets

DNA Mute Swan CgnetsDNA Mute Swan Cgnets
Pin Feathers are New Growth Feathers.. They are Rich in DNA.
5-6 Pin Feathers are an Acceptable Sample.

Swan Cygnet 90 Days Old
These are Photo Images to help you see what needs to be done…

Pull 5-6 Contour Feathers from the Chest area…
A Slight Tug will be needed..

It Does not hurt the Swan to Pull these Feathers…
They will fuss just being held..

Fresh Plucked Festhers

The Breast Feathers are Contour Feathers..
NO Very Big.. About 3-4 Inches. They are Curved.Mute Swan Contour Feathers
Get control of the Cygnet/Swan.
Gather a Small Clump of Breast Feathers – Pinch them..
Pull UPWARD Until they Come Out. No Need to Jerk them.
It is NOT Painful for the Cygnet/Swan.

You NEED 5-6 Contour Feathers with the Quill attached to the Feathers..

PUT ALL Feathers from Each Bird into ONE Ziploc Bag.
Make Sure Feathers are DRY..  Allow to Dry before putting in Bag.
Rescued Mute Swan 
This Swan was Rescued after a High Wind Storm.
DNA Results – Female. PINK FEATHER  A New Home was Arranged.

  Avian BioTech had Numbered  Zip Lock Sample Bags. DNA Feather Sample KitsThere are Feathers in this Bag.  They did not show in the Photo.
Feathers, Fresh Plucked can be stored at Room Temperature for One Year in a LABELED Dry Paper Envelope.  (Checked April 2016)

Place Feather Sample in a ZipLoc Bag just before Mailing.
Label each Swan and Sample so you know which Swan
the Results will correspond to.

Feather DNA Sample for SwansYou will receive a DNA-Sex Test Result Certificate for each Swan.Polish Mute Cygnets
This Certificate should stay with the Swan through its Life.
This is much like their “Birth Certificate” – “Hatch Certificate.”
Since the SAFE Time to Pinion Cygnets is their First 10-14 Days..
It is not always possible to be sure what Sex the Cygnets are
when deciding which Wing to Pinion..

Pinioned Swan Cygnet
It is BETTER to Pinion A Wing by 10-14 Days then Not to Pinion.

There are instructions to Clip a tiny piece of
–      Toe Claw for DNA-Sex Testing.

I am not familiar with this.. I do not know if this will bleed..Swan Missing Toe Claw
We had one 10 Month Old Female Cygnet
–                                                    that was missing a Toe Claw.
I wonder if this was how she was Tested.. ??
Animal Genetics offers DNA Sexing for Birds from the Vascular Material found on the Collagen Membrane of an Egg.

There are instructions for sending
–    Egg Shells for DNA-Sex Testing…

Mute Swan Egg Shells
I am not familiar with Testing DNA using the Shell..
The “Dam” will generally ingest the Shell if a Cygnet Hatches.Mute Swan Cygnets  Which Cygnet belongs to the Egg Shell Membrane  ???

This might be practical when Eggs are Hatched in an Incubator.Mute Swan Cygnets
Making Sure which Cygnet belongs to which Shell would be Tricky.Mute Swan CygnetsCheck HOW to Submitted this type of Sample Properly.

Take Care to adjust ANY Leg Band so it will NOT
Slide UP the Leg over the Ankle Joint..
The Joint Next to the Feathers…

Cable Tie ID Swan CygnetAdjust to minimize Catching on things.

As the Cygnet/Swan Grows. THEY GROW QUICKLY.

We have used Colored Cable Ties on Cygnets we are Hand Raising.
NOT Cygnets on the Pond with their Parents.

Colored Bands to ID CygnetsMost Hardware Stores have Multi-Colored Cable Ties.

I have NO Suggestions on how to Label or ID Tiny Cygnets that are on Ponds with their Parents.
ANY Thing placed on their Legs will need to be changed as they GROW..
We WAIT for them to be 12-14 Weeks Old..
and Band the Summer Survivors.

I was Hoping to find a Safe Permanent way to ID Swans.

There are Metal Registration Bands for Trumpeter Swans.
These may not be used on other Swan Species.

There are Colored Bands for Domestic Poultry.
NONE are Large enough for Mature Male Mutes.

I made several Calls to Companies that make Bands and ID Tags for Poultry and Farm Animals.  Suggestion – This Clip MIGHT work.

June 2016 – After evaluating these as Possible Permanent IDs for Swans/Cygnets, a Veterinarian felt these might be OK to try on  Cygnets that are FOUR Months Old.

(June 2016)  More Information will Follow:  SCRAP this Idea.
As of August 2018 We have NOT used the Ear Tags Below.
The Concern is that NO ONE will LOOK for the Tags Covered with Fluffy Wing Feathers.  A Good IDEA -But Maybe not Practical.
NONE of the Suggestions Below.. are Really Going to Work.. (Sigh)

NB&T Metal Ear Tag 681
National Band & Tag Company
International Identification INC

721 York St, PO Box 72430
Newport, KY 41072-0430
Phone: 1(859) 261-2035
Fax: 800-261-TAGS (8247)
E-Mail: tags@nationalband.com

Spoke with a Sales Person Natasha April 2016
She felt Metal Livestock “Tags” would work well put on Tiny Cygnets weighing One Pound that will Grow into Swans 25-30 Pounds.
These would be clipped into the Wing Skin.
TAKE CARE NOT TO Clip anything but SKIN.

Metal Livestock Identification Ear Tag
Cattle Ear Tags Self-Piercing – Self Locking
Tamper-Resistant Light Weight Aluminum
Will Last for 20+ Years. Style 681
Packs of 100 Number or Letters as you Choose.
One Color add $10.00

There is an Applicator Squeeze Tool that Seals these Tags.
The Photo Images is on the same Page.. $25.00
One Investment should take care of 10-12 Years of Cygnets.


2018 – For Now,  we will keep hoping for another Idea.
I have Chatted with various Veterinarians about the Implanted
  ID Chips used with Cats and Dogs..
I did read about a Public Park being able to Recover a Stolen Swan because the Swan had an ID Chip.

Something to Think About..
Draw Back:  You would need a Scanner to Read the Chip..
In the END WE Continue to Use Colored Cable Ties.

If you have several Cygnets from one Brood that you are SURE you can monitor the Leg Bands..  DO NOT Allow to GET TIGHT.
Constriction Damage to their Legs CAN Cause a Lifetime of Limping.

Cable Tie ID Swan Cygnet
AND CHANGE as they Grow…….
Have at least 4 Colors of SMALL Cable Ties…
OR four Colors of Light weight Cotton Cord (Crochet Floss)…

Colored Bands to ID Cygnets
You can ID a Total of 8 Cygnets.
One of Four Colors on Left Legs
One of Four Colors on Right Legs

IF you need to ID more then 8 Cygnets..
Use combinations of 2 Colors… Keep Careful Records..

NEVER Let the Cable Ties get Tight on their Legs..

Cable Tie ID Swan Cygnet

Before you Cut the Cable Tie – Slide a folded Piece of Paper
under the Cable Tie then Put the Scissors between the
Cable Tie & Paper. Cable Tie ID Swan Cygnet*****Cable Tie ID Swan Cygnet
This way you will not put any pressure on the Skin when you Snip the Cable Tie Off.

ANIMAL GENETICs AVIAN Biotech Main Office in the U.S.A.
Toll Free: 1-800-514-9672 Outside the U.S.: 1-850-386-1145
Fax: 1-850-386-1146
Email: https://www.animalgenetics.us/about-us.php#contactform

Mail DNA Sample for Swans

ANIMAL GENETICs AVIAN Biotech International
1336 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL 32312-1766
ANIMAL GENETICs  AVIAN Biotech Office in England
Animal Genetics (Europe)
1 Mount Charles Rd,   St. Austell Cornwall, PL25 3LB   ENGLAND

Telephone: 44 (0)1726247788
Email: Use Contact Form

If you are Lucky to know Someone who can teach you to Vent Check the Swans/Cygnets, try to learn..
Then when you are unsure send a Sample for DNA-Sex Testing.

Male Mute Swan Cygnet
Not Finding “Male Parts” does not mean you have a Female.
It just means you did not find a Penis.

It is Surprising how difficult it is to be sure if a Mute Swan is a Male or Female.  Look at this Breeding Pair – So Similar.

Breeding Polish Swans
Cygnets of all Swan Species are the same Challenge.

Black Australian Swan Cygnets
Size of Swan – Size of Cygnet – Not Reliable

This past Summer we Rescued three Cygnets from the same Brood.
The Larger Smoky-Grey Cygnet was the Female.
The Two Smaller Creamy White Nest Mates were BOTH Males.

If we had just Guessed… we would be WRONG.

Mute Swan Cygnets
Several Years ago.. A Swan Breeder with 20+ Years of Experience, claimed two Mature Swans that were always together were a Male/Female Pair.Male Mute Swan
A Person in Texas purchased this “Pair” and arranged for them to be shipped from Pennsylvania.
Off to Texas they Flew by Air Mail Cargo.
By Good Fortune the two Swans arrived safe and sound.
But, it only took the new Owner a short time to realize both were MALE.
He was NOT Happy…
We met an Older Gentleman with a Lone two year Old Swan on his Pond.  We hoped to help him find a Mate.
He was SURE “Swanie” was a Female.

Two Year Old Mute SwanI remember thinking, this Swan has a very large Knob and is “Busking.” I thought… Hummmm.. acts like a Male.  (Not a Good way to Guess Sex.)  Male Mute Swan

I was told, No.
A Person who “knows” how to Vent Check, had done so twice and determined “Swanie” was a Female.
I know “Looks” vary greatly.. Lone Females may behave more Aggressive as a Survival Tactic.

This Gentleman purchased a year old Male Juvenile.

Swan Companions
Four years passed….
The Swans spent more time with One Fussing and Chasing the other then being a Peaceful Bonded Pair.
No Mating was observed – Nesting… Yes – Sorta.  NO Eggs.

Same Sex Male SwansThe purchased Juvenile Male had grown into a Large Dominant Male Swan. He would build the Nest and “Sit” on it..

“Swanie” was not allowed near the Nest.        ???
The Owner was bewildered and frustrated at the Pair’s Behavior.

I suggested several times this might be two Males.
But, the Owner was SURE he was right.

One Winter Day, we had a chance to pull several Breast Feathers from “Swanie.”
When the DNA-Results came back…..
“Swanie” was confirmed a Male.   The Owner was Shocked !!!Male Mute Swan

Same Sex Male Swans

Same Sex Male SwansNO Eggs after Two Nesting Seasons when the Swans were 4-6 years old was the BIGGEST Clue.

Poor “Swanie” had been the Submissive Male to a Larger Male who was often Nasty to him.
Size of Knob.. Not Reliable      Only Mutes have Knobs.

The Knob of both Male and Female Mutes changes through the Year as the Swan’s Hormones Increase/Decease annually..

Female Mute Swan Large Knob
The Knob on a Mute Swan will Change as their Weight Changes.
Healthy Swans tend to have larger Knobs – Underweight Swans have Smaller Knobs.

Female Mute Swan KnobThis was a Feral Mute we visited often.

Vocal Pitch-Sounds

With many Ducks you can differentiate Males from Females by their Vocal Sounds.
But this will not work with Swans.

Listening to Cygnets and Adult Swans, I do hear that they all have their own “Voice.”  Each Cygnet in a Brood has a unique Chirp.  But, which are Male Vocals and which are Female.. ???

Singing Swan Sisters

Behavior ??? Not Reliable

Some Females are Dominant when alone – Survival Mode.
They Busk and Snort and Swim in Full Display..Mute Swans                Swan on Left Female.         Swan on Right Male.
We were fooled by a Large Swan living alone on the River near us.
But, Eggs in HER Nest and we realized this was a Mature Female.Nesting Mute Swan


When Two Females live together
–          One will be Submissive and the other Dominant. Female Mute Swans
There may be all Ranges of Behavior. They will Nest.
They may both build a Nest.  Laying lots of Unfertile Eggs.
OR They may build One Nest together and put all their Eggs in one Nest.
A Nest with 10-15 Unfertile Eggs… Good Bet these are TWO Females.

Two Females are more Vulnerable to Predation.

Female Swan Nesting
One may do most of the Nest “Sitting.”      One may Patrol…Mute Swans
Depending on how closely you observe them….
You might be unaware they are both Female.
Nest Failure is Common..   No Male = No Cygnets. Nesting Mute Swan
So when the Eggs do not Hatch after 42 Days (Unfertilized)..
Owners may just be disappointed.
Blaming a Very Cold or Wet Spring..

When Two Males live together
–         One Male will be Submissive – the other Dominant.
They may behavior like a Pair most of the time..
There tends to be more Fussing and Nipping.
NestMates have the Best Chance of Living Together Peacefully.
Male Mute Swans
When they Nest (at 3-6 Years Old)  – NO EGGs.  BIG CLUE.   Two Males..
An Online Story “Much Ado about a Mute Swan.”
The Website that Told this Swan Story is no longer Active.
The Story Summary:
“Prince” and “Princess” together for 21 Years on a Community Lake.
They Nested every Spring out on the large Community Lake.
Each Spring the Community hoped and watched for Cygnets.
In 21 Years there were NEVER any Cygnets. ??? 21 Years.

Some Years “Prince” and “Princess” Nested together.
Some Years they both Built Nests. ??? Never any Cygnets.
Boaters went out to check the Nests… NO Eggs… 21 Years.
When “Princess” died.. she was taken to a Veterinarian for a Necropsy.
The Report – “Princess” was a Male.
–                               21 Years and NO ONE GUESSED !!!

We became part of a Similar “Swan Soap Opera.”

In 1997, Two young Royal Mute Cygnets were Vent Checked.
Determined to be Females.  Named “Angel” and “Princess.”
They were taken to a Large Golf Course Pond to Live.  Same Sex Mute SwansFor 26 Years, these Swans lived Peacefully.   No Cygnets.
No Problems for the Golfers.
During the following Winter Months “Angel” was found Deceased..

A Young Female was Purchase as a Companion for “Princess.”Same Sex Mute Swans
Two Springs passed.. Nests were Built with Unhatched Eggs.

THE Third Spring, there were Seven Tiny Cygnets on the Golf Course POND !!!!        PANIC and Disbelief..Mute Swan CygnetsAfter Sorting some History and Known Facts..
#1 FACT – the New Female was the Cygnets’ Dam..Mute Swan Cygnets
At the Age of 30, “Princess” had to be Renamed “Prince.”
(Photo from 2014)Male Mute Swan
At 30 Years Old, “Prince” had his first Cygnets.. Mute Swan CygnetsALL Beautiful and Healthy..  All Seven Cygnets were Removed, Hand Raised and are now on New Home Ponds.

In Memory of “Angel” – Renamed “Luigi” by his Friend Pat L.Male Mute SwanBLUE FEATHERS


Swan / Cygnet Coloring is NOT Helpful – Polish vs. Royal

Male Polish Mute Swan Cygnet
Old Published Information was misleading.
Not all Polish Cygnets are Female.. Surprise.. This is NOT True.
Black Feet – Brown Feet – Dark Orange Feet – Pink Feet.
Pull a Pink or Blue Slip of Paper out of a Hat Full of little Pieces of Paper.  With Lots of Experience you get better at Guessing.. GUESSING.

Female Polish Mute Swan Cygnet

FROM an ARTICLE Published around 2000

**** ALL Creamy White Cygnets will be FEMALE… (WRONG)
They can be Pinioned on the Right without worrying about Vent Checks or DNA-Sex Tests. (WRONG)  Very Wrong ! 

Male Polish Mute Cygnets

This Information does NOT Hold TRUE.
I have heard others use this OLD Information..
–                                                      with the Polish Cygnets.

I had Read an Article about this, but that was found NOT TRUE.
That Article has been removed from the Internet.  Replaced with the
Current Information..  Polish Cygnets can be Females or Males.

This Brood of SIX Polish Mute Swan CygnetsPolish Mute Swan Cygnets
DNA-Sex Tested Four Female – Two Males…Swan Cygnet DNA Results
From the RATTLING CROW June 2012

Conover MR, Reese JG, & Brown AD (2000).
Costs and Benefits of Subadult Plumage in Mute Swans: Testing
Hypotheses for the Evolution of Delayed Plumage Maturation.

This Article Corrected the previous Information about the Polish Mutes.

We decided it is BEST to have All Swans and Cygnets regardless of Color – DNA-Sex Checked.Swan Cygnets DNA Results

DNA Sex Tested Cygnets

There will be some Cygnets that will be a Silvery-Grey
–                                                         with Grey Feet and Beaks.

Male Mute Swan Grey Feet
Some are Male Some are Female.. WE TEST – NOT GUESS.Mute Swan
The Swan above was Purchased as a “Known” Female Polish Cygnet.
By the Age of 5 Years Old..  NO Nesting, NO Eggs..   ????
Feathers were Sent..  Surprise.. FEMALE..
This is One of Three Females we Know that NEVER Lay Eggs..  ???
SO… We Send Samples for DNA-Sex Testing on ALL Swans and Cygnets we do not know.  I would rather be sure then to “Guess.”

Swan Cygnet Feathered Out

WONDER DUST – Farnam Company, Inc.
Please Read the Ratings and Reviews..
I am familiar with this Product..  Use this when I Pinion Cygnets.
It does STOP Bleeding and Treats Minor Scrapes and Cuts on the Skin of a Swan or Cygnet.
I do know other People who have used Wonder Dust and recommend it.

Wonder Dust
TRACTOR SUPPLY, Co. Check – Available in Store.

Wonder Dust is a dressing powder and blood coagulant for use on certain types of wounds, cuts and abrasions. Please Read Complete Product Information.
SMARTPAK Farnam Wonder Dust Powder, 4 Oz.

Information from this WebSite…..
Wonder Dust is a dressing powder and blood coagulant for use on wounds, cuts, abrasions, and capillary bleeding. Will stop bleeding fast, dry up the wound, and help control granulated tissue formation- a must for any first-aid kit!

Wonder Dust contains activated charcoal to help prevent proud flesh, and serves as a caustic and drying agent for slow-healing sores and infected lesions. Wonder Dust may be used with or without a bandage.

This is a Work in Progress..
Information Collected and Organized by L.M.Sweger April 2016
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