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SWANs PREEN – a Vital – Essential Task.

July 18th, 2020 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in PREENing is Feather Care - (Comments Off on SWANs PREEN – a Vital – Essential Task.)
Swan Cygnet Preen

Preening is One of a Swan’s Daily Activities.

Swan Cygnet Preen

Caring for their Plumage – WaterProofing their Feathers.
This Includes keeping External Parasite Numbers Low.

Swan Cygnet Preen

And Preening Together is an Important Part of a Swan’s Social Life.
It is a Sign of Acceptance..

Swan Cygnet Preen

I have Often Wondered..
“How do Swans Stay SO White” ? ?
They are often in Water that is Less then Clear, but Muddy.

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Swans are Elegantly Dressed with OverLapping Rows of
25,000 Plus Feathers..

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Preening is a BIG Job.

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Swan Cygnet Preen

To Enlarge Images – Right Click Image then Open in a New Tab.

Preening is a Natural Instinct..
Tiny Cygnets less then a few Hours Old.. will Preen..
Here, there and Everywhere..

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Cygnets Hatched by an Incubator.. will PREEN !!

Swan Cygnet Preen

Fresh out of their Egg Shell.. Cygnets are Wet..
They Start to BREATH Air, Rest a Bit, Imprint with their Dam and Sire.
Dry and Fluff their Down..and PREEN..

Swan Cygnet Preen

In Less then 24 Hours Healthy Cygnets are Ready for Life in Water.
All Cygnets should be out on the Water within 72 Hours of Hatching.

Swan Cygnet Preen

Before they Leave the Nest.. their WaterProofing must be Satisfactory.

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If their WaterProofing is Poor.. the Tiny Cygnets will become Wet
and Chill Easily.. Soggy Cygnets are at Risk..

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Cygnets are Unable to Thermo-Regulate for about a Month..

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Good WaterProofing Improves their Survival..

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As a ShutterBug.. I LOVE to Visit a Swan Pond.
Lawn Chairs.. Buckets of Treats and Visit Supplies.

Share Treats of Veggies and Cereal.. Spend Time..

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Relax and Snap Hundreds of Digital images hoping
for One or Two Special Images. (The Ones that make Smiles.)

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Once the Swans are Content with Grazing on their Favorite
Goodies, it is Generally Time for a Quick Bath..

Swan Cygnet Preen

A Brief Flop-Diving to get Water over all their Feather
– Beak to Webbed Feet..

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Or a Silly Joyful Splashing Bath..

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Then Swimming Off to Shallow Water or a Favorite Bank..
(Preening Site)
There is Information about the Preening Site.. below.

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Swans will Start their Daily Chore of Preening..

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Preening…..on the Left……….. Preening on the Right..

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Preening…. their Beaks Poking into Thick Layers of Feathers..

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Periodically, Reaching Back to a Flap of Feathers on the Top Side
of their Tail..

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Swan Cygnet Preen

The Flap of Feathers Flips Up to Access their
Uropygial Gland ( Preening Gland – a Grease Nipple-like Nub)

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Swan Cygnet Preen

Rubbing and Coating their Head and Beak with a Waxy Oil
that will Aid WaterProofing their Feathers..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Uropygial Gland – the Wikipedia Article – More Technical Info.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uropygial_gland

It is Impressive without Hands all the Areas they are Able to Reach..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Their Long Neck is Flexible to allow the Swans to Spread the
Waxy Oil from their Head and Beak to all their Body Feathers..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Some of the Twisting and Stretching is Amusing..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Watching Two or Three Preening Together..
You would think there is a Special Order to be Followed..
They tend to Preen in what Appears to be the a Rehearsed Order..

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When their Preening Session is about to End..
It is Time to Shake – Twist and Flap their Wing..

Swan Cygnet Preen

This Settles all the Body and Wing Feathers into Proper Order.

Swan Cygnet Preen

The Fast Twist Side to Side helps Fluff the Feathers OUT to
Capture Air and Layer the Feather in a Neat Order..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Several BIG Forceful Wing Flaps helps to Layer all the
Wing Feathers into Perfect Overlapping Order.

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It is NORMAL for Swans to Preen an Average of TWO Hours a Day.
This is the MOST Important thing they do to Care for their Feathers.

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I will admit it gets Boring watching them Preen Endlessly
while we are there to Visit. I have Watched Countless Hours of Preening.

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The Useful Life Expectancy of a Feather is One Year..
For 12 Months, Feathers Serve to Protect their Swan..

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Swan Cygnet Preen

Swan Feathers are a Beautiful Costume of White,
Covering a Swan from their Cheeks to Ankles..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Feathers Protect the Swans from Heat and Cold..
Wind, Rain, Snow, Hail.. (Small Hail will Bounce off).

Swan Cygnet Preen

Properly WaterProofed,

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Feathers Prevent the Insulating Down from becoming Wet..

Swan Cygnet Preen

WaterProofed Feathers Allow Swans/Waterfowl to Float
High in/on the Water.

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Water SHOULD Bead and Run off Easily..

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This makes Gliding through Water Look Effortless.

Swan Cygnet Preen

Worn-Frayed Feathers will not WaterProof Well..

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As Time goes on, Worn Feathers will Collect Mineral from the
Water.. their Pristine White will begin to Dull to Shades of Beige.
The Large Flight Feathers start to Look Spiky..

Swan Cygnet Preen

The Swan’s Head does the MOST Preening..Rubbing.

Swan Cygnet Preen

The Tiny Head Feathers become WORN.. If there is Iron in the Water..

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The Dissolved Iron Attaches to these Worn Feathers..
and Creates a “Red Cap.”
The Iron Deposits are Exposed to Air.. and Rust.

Swan Cygnet Preen

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Let their Moulting Begin….

Swan Cygnet Preen

During their Annual Moult, it is TIME to Cast OFF the Fraying Feathers,

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Worn from Daily Preening. Preening Increases.. Yep, MORE Preening..

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Some of the Loose Feathers will get Stuck in their Nares.
(Sigh) Very Happy Digital Editing allows me to Remove these..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Occasionally the Feathers get through the Nares.. Side to Side..

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These Stuck Feathers are Annoying.. Swans will Shake their Head..

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They Blow their Nose into the Water… Blowing Bubbles of Air to Dislodge..

Once in a While you might need to Help.. if you are Able to
Get Hold of your Swans..Gently Remove.. It is a BIG Relief for them..

During the Time NEW Feathers are Emerging.. Thousands of
Tiny “Pin Feathers” are Poking through their Skin..

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There is a Closed Tip where the Feather will Grow-Out of the Quill-Shaft.
The New Feathers Erupting through their Skin Probably ITCH..

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Swans will Appear to be Biting themselves..
Spending LOTs of Time Preening..

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They will Bite-Scrape off the VERY Tip of the New Feathers..

It looks like Dandruff on the Ground.

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They are Nipping off the Ends of the New Feathers so they can GROW…
IT is Interesting to Watch Feathers Develop.

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For a Period of Time..as the New Wing and Tail Feathers Develop..
THEY ARE the BLOOD FEATHERS.

Swan Cygnet Preen

For about Four to Six Weeks, you will see them Preening more..

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This is usually in Late June-July for the Pens – After Nesting Ends.

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July-August on Average for the Cobs..

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Another Time there is a Bit of Extra Preening is
When the Pen is Feathering her Nest..

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There is a “Brood Patch” on her Breast that she will Preen-Shedding
some Smaller Contour Feathers for Soft Material to Cradle her Big Eggs..

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“Brood Patch” Summary: By Shedding Contour Feathers from her
Breast-Abdomen into the Nest.. the Patch of Thinner Feathers Allows
her Body Heat to Transfer to the Incubating-Developing Eggs..

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Swan Cygnet Preen

FEATHERs – FEATHERs – FEATHERs

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The PREENING SITE

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Swans tend to do Most of their Pooping in the Water.
Bathing and Much Preening is also done in the Water.

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Swans Pick a Spot, maybe two, where they will Preen almost every Day.

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These Spots will become MESSY ! ! .. Lots of Feathers and Poop.

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I tried to Rake this Yuck up once a Week.. Its Unattractive – Attracts Flies.
Take a Quick Look at the Poop.. Watch for Anything Moving..
Swans can get Round Worms .. Tape Worms.. Internal Parasites.

Swan Cygnet Preen

Consider taking a Fresh Fecal Sample to your Veterinarian’s Clinic
for an Ova & Parasite Check.. Once a Year..
DeWorming your Swans Once or Twice a Year is Beneficial.

Swan Cygnet Preen

During the Annual Moult..this Area will Look like a Pillow Exploded..
Raking Twice a Week.. is a Good Idea..

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Humans Shed Skin and Hair in Small Amounts Every Day..

Swan Cygnet Preen

NOT sure when.. Swans do Shed their Beak, Legs and Feet Skin.
Just like a Reptile – Lizard Skin..

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Young Cygnets Shed more then Once their First Year – I think..
And at least Once a Year after that.. ?? maybe more.. Not Sure.
I did not Watch the Timing of this.. I just Noticed it along the Way..

Swan Cygnet Preen

This Allow for a Slow Repair of Old Injuries and Worn Scaly Skin over Time..

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Their Shedding is a left over from WAY Back when they were Lizards..
Look Closely at their Leg Skin.. Looks Reptilian..

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It is not Scales like a Snake.. but, very much like Lizard Skin.

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Genetically, Birds are more like Lizards – Reptiles then Mammals..
Evolution has Change the Way they Look and Function..
Enchanting Creatures of Air and Water..

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When Touching a Swan Try NOT to have Fresh Hand Lotion on your Hands..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Swans will Preen this Lotion through their Feathers and Disrupt their WaterProofing.

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Spilled OIL or Chemicals that Float on their Water can Impair their WaterProofing.

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It might be Necessary to Wash (ROOM TEMP Water) with Dawn Soap
to Remove any Oily Film..

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This will REMOVE Much of their Natural WaterProofing.
It may take several Weeks for the WaterProofing to allow Water to Bead..

Swan Cygnet Preen

Most Ponds do have a Period of Time.. when there is a Slimy-Foamy-Decaying Plant Scum that will Attach on the Swan’s Body at the Water Line..

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Be Aware.. that this is not Something Else that might have Contaminated the Water.

Swan Cygnet Preen

When Swans are Kept OUT of the Water and Do NOT Get Wet/Bathe.
They will Preen Less and Less.. Slowly Losing their WaterProofing.

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This Happens when Put in a Barn/Shelter for the Winter.
Or Sheltered to Keep Dry after an Injury.. While Recovering..

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Needing to Keeping our Male Clean and Basically Dry..
I Sponged him Every Other Day with Water and Washed his Bottom.

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Swan Cygnet Preen

Under Preening may Result in Preening Oils not being Produced.
Which will Cause your Waterfowl/Swans to becoming Chilled
when Wet and MAY Lead to Water Aversion.

Swan Cygnet Preen

SWANs NEED to Get Wet to Encourage Preening..
Even a Gentle Rinse with a Hose or a Wet Sponge..

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Protect any Body Area that Needs to Remain Dry..

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“Meadow’s” Foot is Wrapped with Clean Paper Towels and a Plastic Bag.
Watching him Dance and Play in the Sprinkler Water was a Happy Moment.
His Damage Foot Recovery was Long and Challenging.. SOOoo Worth it.

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“MEADOW”

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Over Preening can be a Sign of Increased Numbers of External Parasites.

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All Birds and Waterfowl have Lice..an External Parasite.
A Small Population is Normal in their Feathers..
There are as many Species of Lice as there are Species of Birds.

Swan Cygnet Preen

Lice (Louse) are Blood Sucking External Parasites.
High Numbers of Lice will Cause Anemia. Note a Pale Tongue.
Bathing and Preening keeps the Numbers Low..

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An Increase of the Lice can Happen when Swans are Not Getting
to Bathe in Water that is Reasonably Clean.. Refreshed..
This can Occur During a Period of Drought.

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Or if they are Kept Inside a Shelter for Extended Periods without
Access to Water to Bathe in.

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If your Swan has a Pale Tongue it is Suggesting Anemia..
> > > > Check for Parasites.
An Infestation if External Lice in their Feathers is the First to Check…

Look into their Down Under their Wings..
Where there are Fewer Feathers.. Watch for Tiny Dark Scurrying Spots.
They are the Size of Cracked Pepper.. Image Below is Enlarged.

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You can Try to Catch a Lice Sample by using Sticky Tape..

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If Swans live on a Property where there are Cattle that are Not
being Treated for Cattle Lice.. these may Spread to the Swans..
or other Waterfowl..

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Most Lice are TINY Blood Sucking Parasites..
Small Numbers.. Healthy Swans.. Little Problem..
Large Numbers.. can cause Anemia.. Weakening your Swans..

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Watch for any Over Preening.. Really Digging into their Feathers..

Look at some of the Feathers on the Ground with a Magnifying Glass..
Check the Quill/Shaft for Tiny Whitish Eggs..

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One Treatment We have used – a Dilute Peppermint Oil..
Several Drops in a Pint of Fresh Water. SHAKE WELL.

Spray Under the Swan’s Wings.. and Down their Back.
Avoid their Eyes and Beak.

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They will Preen this through their Feathers.. It does not Kill the Lice..
Lice do not like the Peppermint Oil.. and Jump Off..
Repeat in 5 – 7 Days if Needed.

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I have Used these ORGANIC Flea and Tick Sprays..
CHECK the Ingredients.. Make SURE ALL ORGANIC OILS.

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FLY-X is an Organic Commercial Spray to Repel FLYs.
This Would Probably Also Work..

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Your Veterinarian will have other Remedies..
if these Simple Organic Oil Products do not Help.

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The Soggy Cygnet below.. was Rescued. Lots of TLC..
He is now an Adorable Healthy Black Australian Pet Swans.

Swan Cygnet Preen

“Wet Feather” – Poor WaterProofing..
There are a Number of Conditions that can cause this.

A Lack of Preening Oils may Cause “Wet Feather”
Preen/Oil Gland Problems. Poor Diet.. Post Illness.. Post Surgery.
Post Severe Injury when the Body needs to Heal and ReGain Weight..

When a Swan has a Poor Diet.. or Is Not in Healthy Body Status..
After a Nasty Injury.. while their Body is Healing..

Swan Cygnet Preen

There may be a lack of the Essential Oils and Vitamins needed to
Produce Normal Amounts of Preening Oil.

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“Wet Feather” is Characterized by “Raggedy” looking Feathers
and also an inability to Repel Water. The Swans look Unkempt..

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Feathers get Waterlogged and Stay Soggy Wet after the Swans
get Out of the Water. There is Little to No Water Beading.

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One Tiny Cygnet in this Brood had Poor WaterProofing.. Did not Survive.

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Becoming VERY Soggy Wet Swans may have Trouble Staying Afloat..
You will see them Floating Lower in the Water then Normal.

The Added Water Weight may Prevent them Climbing out of the Water..

Swan Cygnet Preen

This Happened to “Handsome Fellow.”

Severe Weight Loss after his Wing was Shredded..
Then Hours of Surgery.. Blood Loss.. His Body was Depleted..

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After Weeks of Recovery Time, we Released him to a Pond..
I could see he was Swimming Lower and Lower in the Water..

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He could NOT get out of the Pond himself.. Fortunately, he came
to me to Help lift him out.. He was Like a Soggy MOP.

When the Swan’s WaterProofing is Poor, they Chill Easily..
They are WET all the Way to their Skin..

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It take Hours for them to Dry..

This is VERY Dangerous for them during Cold Weather.

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The Swans with Poor WaterProofing may Avoid Water..
which just makes this Problem Worse. They Preen Less and Less.

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This Young Male Swan Spent the Long Winter Months in the Barn..
Keeping a Pool of Water is Difficult and in Cold Areas it Freezes..

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His Feathers became Stiff with Dirt.. We Tried to Wash him from a
Bucket of Water.. He Struggled so much, this was Not Helpful..

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This Gentle Swan just wanted to Live in and by the Barn..

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He Spent most of his Spring, Summer and Fall In or by the Barn.

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Occasionally, he would Sit near the Pond and Watch the other Swans.
We Released and Encouraged him several Times onto his Pond..

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You would have thought we were Burning him..
He was OUT of the Water as Fast as Possible.

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All we did was Terrify him.. We did not Understand this Behavior.

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Thinking Back to that Time.. This Condition “Wet Feather”
may Explain his Aversion to the Pond and Water..

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“Forrest” was Very Sweet and Gentle..

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He had been Rescued.. Found along a Road.. Tiny and Alone.
We All wanted him to be a Healthy, Happy Pond Swan..

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He was Loved..during his Time.
But, did not have the Normal Life of a Swan.

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A Good-Quality Diet Provides the Nutrient to Produce Oil..
AND, Access to Bath Water.. will Encourage Preening.

Swan Cygnet Preen

If “Wet Feather” – Soggy when Wet is Extreme..
You may need to Only Allow the Swans to Bathe in a Kidde Pool,
until the WaterProofing Improves..

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Let them Bathe in 4 – 6 Inches of Water to Stimulate Preening.
Getting Wet Early in the Day.. and Dry in Warm SunLight.

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Watch for Water Beading to Improve before Trying the Pond Again.

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Diet.. It is Helpful for Swans to have a Little Oil in their Diet..
Especially during the Winter Months.
Adding a Tablespoon of Salad Oil to their Daily Feed Mixture may be Helpful..

Adding Black Strap Molasses to their Feed can Add Vitamins
and Nutrients that might help. ??? We have not used this..
Small Amounts until Condition Improves.

Blackstrap Molasses is the most Concentrated Form of Molasses.
It Contains the most Vitamins and Assorted Minerals.
Some Sources say that it has many Health Benefits.

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Swan Cygnet Preen

When it is Best to Hand Raise Cygnets.. Away from their Parents.

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When Hand Raising Cygnets.. Regular Bath Time is Important.

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Young Cygnets need to be on Soft Ground – Grass to Protect their Feet..
In a Muddy/Dirt Living Area, Dirt gets into their Feathers and Down.
This will Interfere with Healthy Preening and WaterPoofing.

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There will be Increased External Parasite Infestations.. > > >Anemia.

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Swan Cygnets need to get Wet to Encourage Preening..

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Providing the Young Cygnets with Plenty of Clean Water
to Splash in and Keep their Bedding Clean and Dry.

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Our “Pond Princess” – Little “Hannah” was Likely Raised without
Access to Water.. We Bid and Won her at a LiveStock Auction.

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10 Months Old, she was Scared and SOOooo Dirty..
Swan Care was ALL so New for us at that Time..

I Rinsed her Several time that first Evening in a Large Tub in our Garage..

LOTs of Dirt Rinsed into the Clean Cold Water..
I had a VERY Wet Cygnet. Towel Dried.. Kept her Safe OverNight.

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When we Released “Hannah” to the Pond the Next Morning..

She Bolted Across the Pond and OUT onto the Golf Course Greens.
She was Terrified of Us and the Water.. We /I had Much to Learn..
ONE: That this Young Swan had Likely Never been in Water…

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Fortunately our Male, “Handsome Fellow” knew what to do.
He Guided “Hannah” to the Clean Shallow Inflow Area of the Pond.

“Handsome” kept her Safe in the Shallow Water as her WaterProofing
Gradually Improved over Two – Three Weeks..

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It was Interesting to Observe him Caring for her..
The Swans have Taught us Much over the Years..

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Happy Memories.. Just Not Enough.

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If you Need to keep a Swan Dry during Recovery after an Injury or Post-Surgery..

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Depending on the Time of Year..
The Veterinarian Instruction may be to Leave the Wound Open to the Air..

A Little Water Time is Important.. So they Preen..

Swan Cygnet Preen

First Cover the Wound Area with a Clean Paper Towel…
then Cover with a Plastic Bag or Saran Wrap, etc..

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I like Painter’s Tape.. It Sticks to the Plastic.. NOT the Skin.
If the Paper Towel Gets Wet.. STOP -Try Again to keep Dry..

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Try to Gently Spray their Feathers Twice a Day.. So they Preen..
Spray and Clean their Cloaca Area..

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This Stimulates the Preening Gland and the Swans will PREEN.

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For Any Waterfowl.. their Beak is VERY Important.

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For Eating, Communicating/Vocalizing, Breathing and for Preening..

An Injury to the Beak that makes Preening Difficult needs to be
Watched Closely..

If the Injury Prevents Adequate Cleaning and Preening..
This will Affect the Swan’s Health..

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Snapping Turtle Injuries to Swan Beaks are TOO Common..

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If an Injury is Severe, it is Difficult to Know the Best Thing to do..
Many Vets will Advise what they know or Foresee – Prognosis…

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Some Injuries.. Will Need Veterinary Attention..
If the Beak Heals without an Infection.. Be Grateful.

Snaggy Areas along the Beak might need to be Smoothed..
Infections in the Beak Structure Tissues will be Difficult to Treat.

WATCH from Insect Maggots.. Common in Fresh Open Wounds.
Flush them Out.. Watch Until this Stops.. Check with Your Vet.

If the Beak’s Damage Prevents a Swan from Eating
or Preening.. Their Future and yours will be Very Difficult..

It may be Worth Giving Nature a Chance to Heal..
The Swan will need Extra TLC..
… and More than a Few Prayers Answered.
A Lot will Depend on the Damage and a Swan’s Will..

I can not Imagine the Pain Initially that the Swan Experience.
After the First few Days – Hope they can Stabilize..

Swan Cygnet Preen

If they can Drink, Eat and Maintain a Reasonably Healthy Weight.
And Gradually Preen to WaterProof Adequately..

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They have a Guarded Chance.
Watch for Shivering during Cold Weather.. They may need Sheltering.

Attempts have been Made to Add a Prosthetic Material to
several Badly Damaged Swan Beaks. As time goes on this may Work
Better. To Date, few have been Successful.. Folks are Learning.

Removing Snapping Turtles will Reduce the Risk of Beak Injuries.

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TO END.. “HOW do SWANs Stay SO WHITE ???”
They PREEN..

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Information Compiled from Observing Swans over the Years.
Yes, Reading has been Informative.. Gathering Data..
And Experiences of Others.. We All Learn Together.
(C) Linda M.Sweger July 2020
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Swan Cygnet Preen

There are Sweet Memories that Linger.