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HOW DO WE CATCH SWANS and CYGNETS ?

April 22nd, 2020 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in SWAN CATCHING IDEAs

THERE ARE AS MANY WAYs and IDEAs as SWANs.

SWAN UPPING is an Annual Ceremony in England.
The Mute Swans on the River Thames are Rounded-up,
Caught, Counted, have a Health Check, are Banded and then Released.

 Catching Swans

Those British Swan Lovers Make this Look EASY !!

 Catching Swans

If you are Interested: Swan Upping – Wikipedia
OR Search: *Swan Upping* – There are Many Website on this Topic..

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

Until you have a Need to Catch a Waterfowl-Swan on a Body of Water,
most People have NO Idea how Challenging it will be..

 Catching Swans

Every Situation is Different.. Any Body of Water is a Risky Unknown.
A Frozen Pond in the Winter.. The Worst Time of Year to Catch Swans.

Catching Swans

Especially, when your Helpers are Unfamiliar with your Body of Water.

 Catching Swans

Over the Years, we have had our Share of “Try this, then Try that.”
My Husband has often said, “It is Better to be Lucky, then Good.”

Catching a Swan

Our Quickest Captures.. have been 5 Minutes.. “JUST GOOD LUCK.”

 Catching Swans

The Male Pictured Above was Sitting in a Shady Area with Dense Plants.
He was EASY to Catch.. Bless him..

The Longest Time to Capture a Swan we wanted to Move took 8 Weeks.
Multiple Visits, Several Failed Attempts.. Our “Brooke” made it HARD.

Catching Swans

The Farm where our Swans had lived for Five Years was being Sold.
We Found a Lovely Pond for them much Closer to our Home.
Two of the Three were Ambush Captured by the Farm Worker who Cared
for the Animals. He Watched for an Opportunity, Placed the Two in the
Barn.. We Drove there, Helped made a Feeble Attempt to Catch “Brooke.”
She was the Winner that Afternoon.. We were the Stressed Ones that Day.

 Catching Swans

We Left with the First Two.. Released them to their New Home Pond.

 Catching Swans

Once we Move her two Companions, “Brooke” went into Survival Mode.

 Catching Swans

A Lone Swan will Frequently become Many Times more Cautious.
She did not Trust Anyone and Stayed as Far from us as Possible.

 Catching a Swan

It took Several Weeks of Visits for her to even come to us for Treats..
A Thick Layer of DuckWeed was a GREAT Summer Diet. Forget the Treats.

Catching Swans

After One or Two Bites of Salad .. OFF she went to the Far Side of the Pond.

 Catching Swans

Patience was not Working. My Husband had an Idea.. Why NOT !
He Played Vocals of the Other Swans Recorded on his Cell Phone..
“Brooke” heard the Happy Snorting.. and came Closer to Rob.

 Catching Swans

Just Close ENOUGH for Rob to FLOP our BIG Net Over her..
She was NOT Quite inside the Net.. and Started to Back OUT !!
BY “Good Luck” her Pinioned Wing Joint SNAGGED in the Net.
JUST Long Enough for Us to GET HOLD of her !!!
It was NOT a Graceful Capture. WE had the Adrenalin RUSH !!

 Catching a Swan

Finally ! We were able to MOVE “Brooke.”

 Catching Swans

Our Threesome was Together Again.. I LOVE this Happy Image of them.

 Catching a Swan

Having our Mute Swan Threesome was Unplanned Luck.. (We were Lucky)
Odds are Low for this Pairing to Work.. I will Explain more on a
Topic Page about Three Swans Living Together..

 Catching Swans

And there were Swans, Mostly Feral Swans that we were Never Able to Catch.. in Time..

Catching Swans

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There are various Capture Methods, that take Time..
Before you Need to Catch Your Swans..
Think about what you might Realistically do..
HAVE A PLAN.. or Two.. or Three.

 Catching Swans

We make a Plan Depending on ALL the Factors.
What we know about the Swans’ Routine Habits,
the Body of Water.. Obstacles.. How many Helping Hands.

 Catching Swans

and How Urgent is it to Catch.. or do You have Time.. ??
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Before I Share Ideas.. and they are Just that – Ideas..

I want to Impress it is Important to do Captures with as Little Stress
as Possible. There is a Condition called “Capture Myopathy.”
There are Various Website that will Provide Information..
Take a Few Minutes and Read a Few..
Does this Really Happen ?? Small Percentage – Yes.

WILD INSTINCTs Capture Myopathy
https://wildinstincts.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/capture-myopathy/

OZARK – Capture Myopathy
https://www.wc4eb.org/wp-content/articles/Capture_Myopathy_Ozark.pdf

Merck Manual > Veterinary Professionals > Poultry > Myopathies
Exertional Myopathy in Poultry
https://www.merckvetmanual.com/poultry/myopathies/exertional-myopathy-in-poultry

Capturing Healthy, Well Socialized Swans or Cygnets – this is Less of a Concern..

 Catching Swans

Hot Weather will add a Stress Factor.. It is Safest for Swans and People
to Capture with as Little Stress as Possible..

 Catching Swans

It Does HELP if your Swans and Cygnets TRUST You..
They will often be Unhappy when you Move them..
Keeping their Distance for Days.
Just keep a Close Watch.. Be Sure they are ON their New Pond/Lake at SunRise and SunSet. Adjustment Time will Vary. Watch Them..

Catching Swans

We Visited our Young Male and just Sat with him.. Quietly..

Catching Swans

Finally, “Meadow” was Happy to See Us Again..

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

The Trust you have Established with your Swans will Return after a Few Days. (Well, it might take Longer. Be Calm and Patient..)


When it is an Emergency to Capture a Swan..
Do what is Necessary Calmly.

Catching a Swan
Catching Swans

Under Tongue-Chin Impactions TRY to REMOVE – NOT Normal..

Under Tongue-Chin Impaction
https://swanlovers.net/category/under-tongue-chin-impaction/

Injured or Depleted Waterfowl-Swans are very Fragile.

 Catching a Swan

Their Stress level must be Addressed or Capturing them may be your Final Act.

Do YOUR Best to be Calm, not Chase, have some Support Fluid..
A Thin Syrup of Honey or King Syrup to Drip a few Drops on the Tongue.
Only put Small Amounts of Fluid on the Tongue if the Swan is able
to Swallow Normally. A Few Drops.. Be Careful NOT to Cause Aspiration.

Covering the Birds Head will help to Quiet and Reduce Fear.

If there is ANY Active Bleeding..
Carefully Apply Pressure to Stop Blood Loss.

Having a Safe Dark – Well Ventilated Container to keep the Bird in
until you can take the Bird for Veterinary Helps.
Call Ahead for Care Instructions.
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 Catching a Swan

Capturing Healthy Swans on their Water is a Challenge..
They have the Advantage.

If you are VERY Lucky, the Swans you want might be in an
Area AWAY from their Water, so they are Easy to just Collect..

 Catching a Swan

When you are “Not Lucky.” You will need a Plan.

 Catching a Swan

It is SAFER for Everyone to “BAIT” them with Food – Treats.

Catching Swans

Use a Small Temporary Fence.. Put “Treats” inside.

 Catching Swans

Sprinkle a “Hansel and Gretel” Trail of Salad Greens.

 Catching a Swan

WET Poultry FEED has a GREAT SMELL….YUMMY !!!
Place the Feed Bowl.. and LEAVE do NOT stay with the Fencing.

 Catching a Swan

Give the Swans a Chance to Explore with NO Human nearby.
Watch from a Distance until you see them Entering for the Food.

Catching a Swan

Repeat for several more Days..
This is a NO Stress – Safer way to work with Swans.

Catching a Swan

This takes Time, but it will Work if you are Patient.

 Catching Swans

An Inexpensive Vinyl Garden Fence 25 or 50 FT Long.
AT LEAST 3 1/2 – 4 Feet High… Several Stakes.

Catching Swans

If you have Lots of Trees, you can use the Trees to Support
Temporary Fencing.
Anchor the Fencing as Close to the Ground as Possible.
It is AMAZING how Swans and Cygnets will FIND the
Weakest Spot in the Fence and Slip UNDER.. DARN !
Leave some Fence for a Gate.. Secure the Gate OPEN.

Catching Swans

Check that there are NO Tangle Hazards..

Catching Swans

Swans LOVE Lettuce and will Often go into a Fence Area for this Treat.
Put the Treats by the Opening the First Day.
Then each Day move the Treats further toward the Back.
Walk away for Several Days..
The Swans will Explore.. Finding their Treats.
The Swans become Comfortable being inside the Fencing.

 Catching Swans

I have Two Examples: First a Swan Family with 8 Cygnets.

Catching Swans

This was the First Summer ALL the Cygnets Survived. SO Cute !

 Catching Swans

It is Time to Get the Cygnets Ready to Collect their DNA Samples,
and Band them with Colored Cable Ties. They are GROWING !!
In Four to Six Weeks they will be Leaving for their New Lives.

Catching Swans

After 5 Days getting them Familiar with the Fencing,

Catching Swans

As we would Walk down to their Pond, the Whole Swan Family would
Swim Over and Walk Inside the Fence and Wait for us. “Treats.”

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

For Several Days we just Fed them inside, Visited and Left..

Catching Swans

ALWAYs making sure the Gate is Secured OPEN when you
were not there.

OR CLOSE and Secure the Gate until you want to start Baiting..
Inside the Fenced area Could be a Trap if there are Predators in your Area..

Catching Swans

When we wanted to Work with the Swans.. We Closed the Gate.
Best to have a Second Person there to Help.
Put a Large Towel or Blanket around a Swan to Control Wings.

 Catching Swans

Be Extra Gentle with Cygnets, their Legs are Fragile.. Up to 18 Months.

Catching Swan Cygnets

When we wanted to Band and Collect Feathers for DNA..
We Closed the Gate.

Catching Swan Cygnets

It was Cooler to Do this Project in the Shade, but the Images are Bluish.

Catching Swan Cygnets

When it was Time for Rehoming.. We Closed the Gate..
Have your Transport Boxes or Carriers Ready..

Catching Swans

Pick out the Cygnets for their New Owners.. Released the Rest..

Catching Swans

ANY TIME you Catch your Swans.. Do a Quick Check..
Check the Color of their Tongue. REMOVE Any Under Tongue Impactions..
Feel Keel Bone.. for Body Condition.. Check Feet for Bumble Sores.

 Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swan Cygnets

We used this Over and Over during that Summer.. Worked VERY Well..

Temporary Fencing can be Stored and Used Again and Again..

Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans

Catch Times:
Less then 10 Minutes.. We Moved a Young Male to his New Home.
Then Returned a Week Later and Moved a Young Female.. Time 5 Minutes.

 Catching Swans
Catching Swans

We had a Chance to Visit “Snow White” with her Mate “PiP.”

Catching Swans

The Second Example using the Temporary Fencing:

Catching Swans

We wanted to help Move Two of a Juvenile Group to their Permanent Lake.
The Young Males are Nest Mates.. Banded with Red Bands..
Several Weeks before the Target Move Date, a Fenced Area was put up and
ALL their Feed and Treats were put INSIDE the Fenced Area..
You can Barely… See the Fencing at the Far End of this Lawn.

Catching Swans

Staff at this Property Watched for the Young Swans to become Comfortable
going into the Area for their Foods.

Catching Swans

The Morning we Planned to Move the Two Juveniles, they were in the Catch Fencing when we Arrived and Parked our Van..
YEAH !!! Close the Gate !
All those Helping were Prepared to Move them.

Catching Swans

The Young Swans were Greeting us with Lots of Head Nodding.. Cute !!

Catching Swans

There was NO Attempt to Escape. We Closed the Gate – it was Stressless.

Catching Swans

Transport Boxes were Ready – Loaded Safely with NO Stress.
Everyone is Safe – OFF we Go to their New Home Lake.

Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans
Catching Swans

The Young Swans are MOVED !! Now they will Explore this New Place.
They WILL Need to be Watched Closely for Several Adjustment Days.

Catching Swans

Rolls of Vinyl Snow Fencing is very Light Weight.. but, needs Stakes.

Catching Swan Cygnets
Catching Swan Cygnets
Catching Swans

North State Fencing is Sturdy.. and does not need Stakes.
??? Maybe One or Two.. for Stability..
This Fencing is STURDY – Folds for Storage..

Catching Swans

These Flexible Panel Puppy Pens might Work. Worth a Try if you have them.

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

For Years we used Wooden Snow Fencing.. Not Portable – Semi-Permanent.
It worked well for our Needs.

Catching Swans

A Fenced Area can be used at Various Times.
So think about having a More Permanent Fence-Gate Area available.

Catching Swans

If You Want or Need to Work around your Pond in the Spring,
it is Nice to have a Safe Place for a Hormonal Cob..

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

They are Easy to Net in the Spring, Contain and Everyone is Safe.

Catching Swans

When it is Time to Pinion Tiny Cygnets.. They will follow their
Dam into the Fenced Areas.. Catch her and You have them..

Catching Swan Cygnets

IF you Need to Catch Small Cygnets on the Water..
Look for Nets with LONG Handles and Small Gauge Netting.

Catching Swan Cygnets

When it is time to ID Band the Cygnets and Collect Feathers for DNA-Sex Testing, Catch Fencing is a BIG Help..

Catching Swan Cygnets

When there are many Growing Cygnets there will be Poop all over the Place, that is expected. The Ground can get Slippy. Be Aware !

Birds-Waterfowl Poop as Defense due to the “Fight or Flight” Response:
When Bird “Take to Air,” they Poop to Lighten themselves.

Catching Swans

SOME SWANs HATE Lawn Mowers.. Especially Males..
AND/OR Loud Motors.. like Chain Saws, Weed Whackers and Leaf Blowers.
Being able to put them in a Fenced Area is a BIG HELP…

Catching Swans

Catch Enclosures can be Half in Water or All on Land near the Pond.
Temporary… or Set-up for Long-term Multi Purpose Use..
There are Many Times it would be Nice to be able to Contain a Swan.

 Catching Swans

If you do Set-Up a Permanent Fence Area.. Try to Avoid Right Angle Corners.

Swan Capture Fencing

An Oval Type Design is Better.. If a Predator gets into a Fenced Area..
Swans can get Trapped in Right Angle Corners.

 Catching Swans

An Oval – Round.. Cornerless Design.. allows the Swans to move Side to Side.
This Concept also Applies to Perimeter Fencing..


Catching Swans

If your Swan/Cygnet is Full-Wing.. – They will be Safer Grounded.
When it is “TIME to CLIP” after their Annual Moult Catch Fencing is Helpful.

Clipping Captive Swan Pets
https://swanlovers.net/category/clipping-captive-swan-pets/

ANY Swan that has Learned to Fly is Trickier to keep in Place.
Catching them is a BIG Challenge.. Keep the Fence NO Wider
then 3 Feet.. It helps to have a Narrow Fence Area which make it
Difficult for the Swans to Open their Wings..

Catching Swans

We put Food inside the Narrow Fence Area..
First by the Entrance, then moving the Bowl further in each Day.
Let the Swans or Cygnets go into the Area for several Days with
NO One there.. Let the Swans Explore at their Own Pace… Patience..

After Several Days.. they Know their Food will be Inside..
The Fence is not a Threatening Place.
HAVE all your Clipping Supplies Ready..
Try NOT to Look at the Swans, Walk Slowly, Speak Softly.. Close Gate.
Have a BIG Towel or Large Net. And Extra Helper Hands..

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There have been times that Swans needed to be Captured that
for various Reasons the Temporary Fence was not Practical..

 Catching Swans

We have used the Sweeping Method with Some Success.
Here Obstacles will limit your Plans.. The SIZE of the Water Area.
Trees, Bushes, Fences, Rocks, Plants.. Docks, etc..

 Catching Swans

A Rope to Slowly Sweep over a Small Body of Water so the Swans
Walk-Out in a Location where there are People Waiting with Nets.

Catching Swans

This will Work.. At Least One Pass Over the Water.. “Slowly”
If the Swans Double Back Under the Rope, they Know how EASY
it is to THWART this Method.

After a Few Times the Swans get Wise to this Method..
Swans have VERY Good Memories.. They Learn.

Catching Swans

I Found this Idea on the Internet.. Worth a Try. It Might Work..
A Rope with Plastic Bags Tied on to Sweep over a Narrow Water Area to move the Swans off to People waiting with Nets.
The Fluttering Bags are a Little more Reason for the Swans to Move Away.

Again, One Pass over the Water and the Swans knews they Could
Swim Under the Rope and it Rarely Worked Again..

Catching a Swan

We Tried a Rope with Empty Milk Jugs that Float on the Surface..
Seemed like a Good Idea.. Humm..
“Sorta” Solid Looking Objects for the Swans to Move AWAY from..
This Tangled Easily if the Rope was too Long. Not for a Large Pond.
It was Difficult to Work with.. And, it was Wet and Messy to Take Home.

I Wonder if these Colorful Streamer that are Often over Car Lots might Work ??

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

One Women we know, uses a Long Length of Landscape Cloth..
It is about 3 Feet Wide.. Big and Black and Successfully Sweeps her
Waterfowl off the Pond when she need them to Go in for the Night.

Another Sweep Idea… Is to use a Kayak or Canoe, a Surf Board or a Large Floating Object with Ropes tied on Each Side. Sweep Slowly over Surface.

 Catching Swans

No One in the Boat.. just use as a Sweep Object..
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Chasing Swans around a Large Pond or Lake in a Boat
– The Swans Generally Win..

 Catching Swans

You will not be able to Catch them.. unless you have several Boats..
and MANY Hands.. Row Boats, Canoes, Paddle Boats are too Slow..

Catching Swans
 Catching Swans
Catching a Swan

A Kayaker is Trying to Encourage the Swan OFF Pond to People with Nets.
Be Careful NOT to Over Stress the Swans..

 Catching Swans

Trying to Capture Full-Wing Swans by Chasing is Hopeless.
They get Excited and KNOW that all they need to do is Fly Away from the Boat..
The BIGGEST RISK is they will just keep Flying..
This is Especially Challenging with Rogue and Feral Swans.

Catching Swans

When there is LOTs of Confusion, Strange People, it is …
Well, not a Great Way to Catch your Swans..

Catching Swan Cygnet

We Stopped the Crew of Helpers.. They did not Understand keeping Calm.
Rob and I Returned a Few Days Later.. We had the Cygnet we wanted to
Move in just a few Minutes.. NO Fuss.. NO Stress..

Catching Swans

There is more Success if the Swans are Pinioned.. Flightless.

We have no Boats. When Necessary, we have arranged for the help of People in Kayaks to Slowly working the Swans off the Pond.
ALWAYS have Anyone in a Boat or Kayak Wear a Life Jacket.

Catching Swans

Have Several People with Nets Waiting..
Give the Swans Space to Walk 10-15 Feet away from the Water,
then QUICKLY Net.

Catching Swans

Large Nets are Available at Wal-Mart Sporting Goods…
Less then $20.00 Frabill Fishing Nets – Telescoping Handle.
For Adult Swans the Hoop Needs to be 20-24 Inches…
Nets are VERY Helpful..

Catching Swans

You can NOT Aggressively Chase Swans for more then a few Minutes..
Slow is Better.. They will become Tired and go to Land..

Swans can develop “Capture Myopathy”.. which can be Fatal..
“The Fight or Flight Response” Pumps High Levels of Adrenalin
into their System.. Quickly Depletes their Blood Glucose..
Over Stressing them, they may Collapse – “Faint.”

In Extreme Cases, they might drop Dead- “Stress Death.”
Prolonged Chasing is not a Good Plan…
Take Breaks in the Action..


True Story: I will do a Basic Summary.
There are many more Details to this Sad Saga.

A New Golf Course in North East Pennsylvania wanted to have Beautiful Swans on their Ponds. They acquired 5 Pair of Swans.

Catching Swans

One Pair of Trumpeter Swans.

 Catching Swans

Two Pair of Black Australian Swans.

Catching Swans

Two Pair of Mute Swans.

Each Pair was Placed on their Own Ponds Scattered through the 18 Hole Golf Courses.

Catching Swans

The Swans did not Understand they were to Stay on their Assigned Ponds.
They would walk to other Ponds.. There were Fights and Chasing between Pairs.

Catching Swans

The Golf Course Owner wanted the Swans, Basically as Live Pond Ornaments. He wanted them on their Assigned Ponds..

Catching Swans

So One Summer Afternoon, he had the Grounds Staff Chase the Various Swans with the Greens Hole Flag Poles back to their Assigned Ponds.

Catching Swans

It was a Hot Summer Day that Ended Badly for the Swans.

 Catching Swans

A Call from the Angry Owner, Five of the Swans had Dropped Dead..
He Accused the Breeder (Not Me) of Selling him Sick Swans..

 Catching Swans

But, it was the Excessive Chasing that caused this Tragic Outcome.

Catching Swans

Five Swans died that Day. Three more were Killed by Night Predators.
Turned out, the Ponds were Shallow with NO Deep Water Safe Area for the Swans. The Remaining Two Swans were ReHomed to a Private Home Pond.

 Catching Swans

These Pond Images are Random, NOT from the Golf Course in this Story..


These Capture Ideas Diagrams are from the a Book about Swan Care:
SWAN Breeding and Management by Loyl Stromberg.

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

Many Swans will Come VERY Close to Eat from Your Hand..

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

If you are Patient and WAIT for JUST the Right Moment..
You MIGHT be able to Get Hold of the Swan’s Neck..
JUST DO NOT YANK their Neck, Just HOLD IT !!
Have a Second Person READY to Step in and Help Bring the Swan Under Control. If you Try this Way to Catch you Swan… Be Prepared to get WET !!
Their Wings and Feet will be Splashing the Water..

Catching Swans

In the Image Above, there is Whole Corn in the Bucket.. Our Little Female
Put her Head into the Bucket.. After we did this for Several Days…
I was Able to Reach Down and Get Hold of her Cute Little Neck.

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

A Pond Covered with DuckWeed has been Helpful at Times.
Again Do this for Several Day. Have your BIG Net Close and Ready.
We put some Corn in Water about 10-12 Inches Deep Close to the Bank.. The Swans can not see what we are Doing..

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

For a Few Moments, you have a Chance to Flop a Net over the Swan.
Make SURE you Aim for their TAIL !!! Push the Net DOWN to Solid Ground.
Swans are Experts at Sliding Backwards and Out Under a Net.
If you Miss, there is Little Chance you will get Another Chance that Day.

Working with Swans will Test your Patience and Creative Thinking.

Catching Swans
Catching Swans

Catching Swans is Tricky. But, WHEN Successful, it Feels GREAT !!

Catching Swans

MAKE a PLAN.. BE as SAFE as POSSIBLE.

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IDEAs Organize by Linda M.Sweger April 2020
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