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

Pinioning is Permanent

September 4th, 2016 | Posted by LadyNerkle1 in Pinioning is Permanent




Permanently Ground SWAN CYGNETs 1 – 21 Days Old.

Swan Cygnet 10 Days

I WISH this was not Necessary.
Seeing Mute Swans Living Wild and Free to Fly
is an Experience I will always Cherish.

Mute Swans Flying

CLICK Images to Enlarge 

Since 2003-2004 the Legal Status of Mute Swans
in the United States has drastically changed.

Swan Pinion Wing

ANY MUTE SWAN that becomes Feral in PA will not survive Long.
This is Posted in the PA Hunting & Trapping Digest..
find attached Page.

PAGC 2014-15 Hunting Digest

There have NEVER been more then 100 Mute Swans living Feral
in PA According to the Mid-Summer Mute Swan Surveys conducted by the Pennsylvania Game Commission in 2005 – 2008 – 2011.

Mute Swans Flying

Working with and Learning about Mute Swans over the Years,
I have come to terms with the Benefit of Pinioning Swan Cygnets.
Any Swan that leaves your Private Property and becomes
Feral and Free, will Pay Dearly.            Few will Survive.

Mute Swan Flying

Many of the Young Mute Cygnets that are Rescued in the Spring..
are JUST LUCKY that someone found them before the Hunters.

Rescued Mute Swan Cygnet

The RESPONSIBLE thing to do is to Pinion Cygnets 
                   – Find them Good Homes.. not Release. 


Swan Cygnet Wing Pinion
From Wikipedia
Pinioning is the Act of Surgically removing the Pinion Joint,

AVIAN WING Bones Pinion Joint
the Joint of a Bird’s Wing farthest from the Body, to Prevent Flight.
Pinioning is often done to Waterfowl and Poultry.

Pinioned Mute Swan

Most Reading Sources Recommend this be done by 10 Days Old.
Pinioning “should” only be done by a Trained Breeder or Veterinarian.Pinion Swan CygnetBUT, after doing this for a Number of Years….

Pinion CygnetsPinion Cygnets“IF” You Know What You are Doing.. you can Safely up to 21 Days.Pinion Swan Cygnet  CHECK there is NO Bleeding
before Putting the Cygnets back on Your Pond..

Pinion Swan Cygnet

      The Same Cygnet at Four Months Old..  
Pinion Swan Cygnet

AFTER 21 Days take ALL the Cygnets or Older Swans to Your Avian Veterinarian to have them Pinioned.

After 21 Days of age – Pinioning is a Painful, Invasive Surgical Procedure. It should not be done outside of a Veterinary Office without appropriate Anesthesia, Surgical Care, and Pain Medication.
DONE Wrong – it can be FATAL.

Swan Cygnets Days Old

DONE WRONG – Without Understanding How can result in serious Harm to your Tiny Cygnets.  If you know someone who knows how to Pinion.. ask for their Help.

For Your VERY First TIME.. ASK Your Veterinarian to Come to your Pond and Help.

Mute Swan Cygnet
OR: TAKE ONE CYGNET to your Avian Veterinarian and have Him or Her do this with you.  ASK your Veterinarian to READ this Topic Page..  Most have NEVER Pinioned Swan Cygnets.

Place this ONE Cygnet in a Container it can not ESCAPE from.. Keep the Cygnet Safe.  Always CHECK the Carrier Door is Closed.

SWAN Pet Carriers

If your Veterinarian is not Familiar with doing a Pinion,
SHARE this LINK and Information with them.

The MORE People/Veterinarians who are willing to Pinion, the MORE Cygnets and Swans will be SAVED from becoming Feral.

Mute Swan Full WingThe Swan Above is NOT Pinioned –

The Swan Below Both Wings.   DO NOT PINION BOTH WINGs.
Mute Swan Pinioned
Pinion Swan

 Properly Pinioned Just One Wing – Alula Spared.

Pinion Cygnet*********************************************************

There are some Challenges to overcome to Responsibly Pinion Swans/Cygnets.

You will Need to have One or Two Helpers.
Have a Plan – all Pond Situations are Different.
Have Equipment and Supplies READY.


Pinion SuppliesA Sharp Pair of Blunt End Scissors
Scrubbed Soap & Water Clean – Leave in Open Position
– Sterilize by Boiling in 4 Quarts of Water 3-5 minutes.
Save the Cooled Boiled Water to RINSE Scissors between Cygnets.
Pour about 6 Ozs. of the Sterile Water into a VERY CLEAN Plastic Gallon Jug.
Shake to spread Water inside Jug and Discard this Rinse.
Now Pour Remaining Sterile Water into Jug.

A Clean Dish Pan to Organize your Supplies.
Several Old Bath Towels to put on your Lap – Cygnets will POOP.
Several Old Wash Clothes – For Clean Ups.

Rubber or Plastic Food Handler’s Gloves if you Feel you Need them.
Roll of Paper Towels. CUT 50 3-4 Inch Squares – Put in ZipLoc.
Wet Wipes are Nice to have.
A Bag for Trash. Collect ALL TRASH.


 SWAN Pinion Dental Tape
Two Small Containers of IsoPropyl Alcohol.    (One might Spill)

SWAN Wonder Dust

WONDER DUST – a Medicated Powder – Info Below.
OR Clean Flour Small Container.
OR Clean Corn Starch Small Container.

KWIK-Stop Powder – TOO STOP Excess Bleeding.
I Put a Small Amount in a Small Container.
READ the Instruction for KWIK-Stop before Using.
DO NOT ALLOW Cygnets to Ingest this Powder.

SWAN Kwik Stop Styptic Powder

Remember Eye Glasses if you Need them.
Swan Transport Carrier Transport Carriers – One to Put Cob – “Sire” in.

The Male Cob – “Sire” will try to protect his Family.
If you have a Net -HAVE a Net or Large Blanket.
Just walk toward the Pond and as the Male comes out
to CHASE you away…. Put the Net over him.
Do NOT Do this Alone unless you are Experienced.

HAVE A BUDDY.  Extra Hands are VERY Helpful.

One Carrier to Put Cygnets in to Keep them Safe.
Plan for Pen – Dam.. Contain Her as Needed.

SWANs Multi-Purpose Fencing

Consider Temporary Fencing to Collect the Swan Family.
This will Prevent People Chasing Them off the Pond.
Swan Temporary Fence This Movable Fencing lined with Bed Sheet was VERY Clever
and Worked VERY Well.
It Opens and was Walked Around the Dam and her Cygnets.

The Cygnet will do their Best to Stay with their Dam.

Swan Cygnets Days Old

If you Catch the Female-“Dam,” You will have the Cygnets.
They are Imprinted to her.

If you have her in a Carrier, she will “Call” them
and the Cygnets will RUN to be close to her.
Scoop them UP.

Swan Cygnets Days Old


If you Plan to Collect DNA Samples Have Kits Ready.
ZipLoc Bags – Clean Paper Envelopes Marking Pens.
Ahead of Time – Call AVIAN BioTech for Instructions.

*** The Prevailing Pinion Method is to Cut
– Remove One Wing Tip 
before a Cygnet is 1-10 days old.
– CAREFULLY Following the Instructions that Follow –
You can Safely Pinion up to 21 Days Old.  READ Carefully.

The Point is to keep the Swan OFF Balance..

Mute Swan Pinion

Removing the Wing Segment Distal to the Pinion Joint of a Bird/Swan is Anatomically similar to removing a Person’s Hand
but leaving the Thumb.

These Instructions “SPARE the ALULA”
(Structure like our Thumb).

Pinioning Wing Anatomy

“Sparing the Alula” – The Removal is done slightly beyond the “Pinion Joint.” This Removes the most Distal Wing Section, which will contain the Large Primary Flight Feathers preventing the Acceleration and Balance required for Flight.

Pinion Swan Cygnet
Cut 12-15 Inch Lengths of Dental *Tape*.. Make a Tie-Loop.
Ease the Loop into Place..  Take your Time..
You want to get this RIGHT.. for a Nice Pinioned Wing.
If it helps, PRACTICE on a Straw…
to get your Fingers familiar with tying these Fine Knots.
Pinion Swan Cygnet TIE and Pull Tight     Check it is in the Correct Location.
THE Dental Tape should NOT Cut the Wing Tissue. 
The Cygnets SHOULD Squeal.      KNOT Tape X3
Wrap the Tape and Tie-Knot Again !     NO Messy Strings.

The Squeal the Cygnet makes when you PULL the Tape Tight is the ONLY time this will HURT the Cygnet.
IF you have the Tape TIGHT.. It will NOT Hurt when you Cut the Wing Tip.  The Cygnet will not Flinch.

Pinion Swan Cygnet Some of the Down will become Tangled in the Dental Tape – GOOD !
This will help the Tape Stay on the Site where you Tie it.
Trim Long Ends… very Close to the Knot.
BE Sure to Trim the Excess Tape – NOT the Knot.
DO NOT Take the Tape OFF after Cutting Wing Tip.

Watch and Check Cygnets Wing for 20-30 Minutes..
ONCE You are SURE there is NO Bleeding….
The Cygnets may go back with their Dam..on the Pond.

Mute Swan Pinion
This will Permanently Ground all but a few of these large Birds.

Pinioning is not 100% effective.
A few Swans will learn to fly short distances..
This may save them from a Predator or Threatening Situation.

Mute Swan Pinion

This Female was able to Fly about 35-40 Feet just above the Water.
But, for keeping large Captive Waterfowl like Swans Pinioning is the most Accepted Practice.

of the Tiny Cygnets..
It is better to Pinion One Tiny Wing Tip… then to need to do it later..

IF you Know How or Know Someone Experienced at VENT Checking for Sex.

Try to Pinion the RIGHT WING Tip for Females.
**** ONE WING ONLY ****

Pinioned Female Mute Swan

Pinioned Male Mute SwanPinion the Left WING Tip for Males.
**** ONE WING ONLY ****

Mute Swan Pinioned

It is VERY Challenging to Color Band 4 to 8 very Small Cygnets that will be out on your Pond.

Mute Swan Cygnets
Tiny Cygnet Legs GROW Very Fast. 

Cygnet Colored Leg Band
IF you are sure you will be able to Check the Colored Leg Bands and Change as Needed consider saving the Wing Tips.
Cygnets GROW Quickly.  Leg Band Must be Slightly Loose.

It is Easier to Wait and Color Band the Cygnets
when they are 
12-16 Weeks Old.

Their Legs are MUCH Bigger and you may only be Banding them One Time.   At the Same Time you can collect Feather Samples
from Each Surviving Cygnet for their DNA-Sex Testing.
Average Time is August.
Cygnets are Ready for New Home
by September – November.

Cygnet Colored Leg Band

These Colored Plastic Bands will last about SIX Months.
Try to have them Slightly Loose.
If you Notice any Band getting TIGHT Change it. 

If you are Hand Raising Cygnets and are able to put Colored Leg Bands on..  Look for Small and Large Colored Bands.

SWAN Cygnet Colored Cable Ties
REMEMBER to Check them frequently and Change as Cygnets GROW Quickly.

Colored Bands to ID Cygnets

If the “WING TIPs” are Cut off before the Cygnet’s Sex can be determined…  These can be sent for the DNA-Sex Determination Testing.. OPTIONAL.

Be sure you can Identify – Match the Wing Tip with the Cygnet it came from.. Put EACH Wing Tip in a PAPER ENVELOPE.
Place a Sheet of Wax Paper between Envelopes to prevent any Contamination between Sample Envelopes.
Completely Label Each Envelope..  Name – Date – Cygnet ID.
Then Put these INTO another Envelope with the Submission Form..
and send for Testing ASAP..


Pinioned Wing Tips for DNA

CALL AVIAN BioTech for Instructions for Storing the Wing Tips.

CONSIDER: It is Likely you will lose some of the Cygnets to Predators.  Sending for the DNA Test before the Cygnets are 12-16 Weeks Old can be a Waste of Money.

Common Swan Cygnet Predators Include:
Snapping Turtle, Hawks, Owls and Great Blue Herons.

Pond Predator

Mute Cygnet Feathers

It May be more Practical to do Feather DNA-Sex Testing when Surviving Cygnets are 12-16 Weeks Old to Determine Sex.
They will have True Feathers by then.
This is what the Cygnet Wing will look like by “Sparing the Alula.”

Pinion Mute Swan Cygnet
Having the Alula Feathers to cover the “Cut” end of Wing makes a nice Neat Appearance.

Pinion Mute Swan Cygnet

Large Primary Flight Feathers are Absent.
The Tiny Primary Section of Wing was Removed at 5 Days Old.
The Alula was Spared – left to Grow Feathers to make a Nice Cover over the end of the Secondary Feather Section.

Discuss YOUR Plans before you START.

Pinion Supplies

FIRST We GET Hold of the Adult Male – the Sire
and put him in a Transport Carrier in a Shady Location.

Mute Swan CarrierProtective Male Mute Swan This way we can work without his Protective Behavior.

Protective Mute Swan

We use Temporary Fencing to Gather the Swan Family.
It is TOO Difficult to Chase them on their Pond.

Temporary Fencing
Bait them into the Fencing with Treats.

Mute Swan Cygnets

The Tiny Cygnets will try their Best to stay Close to their Dam, the Adult Female.  If you Catch her, you will have them.

Mute Swans Cygnets
Move this Group to a Dry Place.. Collect several of the Cygnets into a Container that they are SAFE in, with a DOOR or LID that Closes.

Time to Pinion Cygnets

Sit with One Cygnet – Old Towel on Your Lap.
Gently Extend the Little Wing.

Pinion Cygnet Wing
On the Distal End of the Wing there is a Joint.
There are two Sections of Wing attached at this Pinion Joint.
One Section is very small (the ALULA)

AVIAN WING Bones Pinion Joint
and the other is a lot bigger (the Phalanx) the Wing Tip,
where the Large Primary Flight Feather will grow.

Before the Cygnets are FOUR Weeks Old, there is One Tiny Capillary and One Nerve Fiber in their Tiny Wing Tip.
The Wing Tip is mainly Soft Cartilage and Fluffy Down.

THERE are NO FIRM-FORMED Bones Yet ! !
IF there are FIRM BONEs… STOP !!
It is Too Late for You to DO This. 

Pinion Cygnet Wing

Use 12-18 Inches of Clean Dental *TAPE* (NOT the THIN Floss)
to Wrap TWICE. Try to get the Tape into the Tiny V between the Alula and Phalanx.

Pinion Swan Cygnet
Pull the Wrapped Tape Tight until the Cygnet Squeals.. but, not enough to Cut the Skin. Tie a VERY Snug Knot at least 3 Times.
Wrap the Dental Tape around the Wing Tip once more and Tie a VERY Snug Knot 3 Times. Snip the Excess Tape to leave about 1/3 Inch. It is GOOD to have some of the Downy Fluff tied into the Knots. Discard Tape Ends in Trash Bag.

Pinion Swan Cygnet

You CUT OFF the Larger Phalanx Wing Tip 1/4 Distal
(Beyond) the Snug Knotted Tape. Leaving the smaller Alula intact.

There may be a Single Drop of Blood..
Immediately sprinkled WONDER DUST on Cut Surface.
OR: Clean Fresh Corn Starch or White Flour on the Cut..
This gives any Blood Fine Particles to Help form a Clot..

CLEAN Scissors between each Cygnet.
Wipe with IsoPropyl Alcohol.

Place Cygnet in Safe Place and WATCH-CHECK for any Bleeding.
Touch Cut Surface with Paper Towel Square to Check for Blood.
Check the Cut is Dry and a Firm Clot has Formed.. NO Blood Spot for 30-45 Minutes.   There is Additional Information BELOW.

In about 7-10 Days this will Seal – Scar and the Tiny Wing Remaining beyond the Tape will fall off. The Pinion will be Complete.

Try to Wait for 30-45 Minutes with NO Blood Spot before returning Cygnets to the Pond.
Pinion Swan Cygnet The Dam and Sire will be VERY Happy to have their Cygnets Back.

Pinion Swan Cygnet

Release the Cob-Sire to Pond when you are Finished Doing the Pinioning.

Protective Male Mute Swan

Pinion Swan Cygnets
Once ALL Cygnets are Released..
The Swan Family will be VERY Happy.

Happy Mute Swan Family

IF the Dental Tape is NOT Tied SNUG ENOUGH…
– HOLD PRESSURE Until Bleeding Stops.

If there is Slow-Oozing Bleeding, you can try to Squeeze the Cut with your Fingers for a few minutes – Pinch Pressure.

If Bleeding Continues RE-TIE Quickly.
OVER the SAME Location.

Tie another Snug piece of Dental Tape to Stop Bleeding..

IF the Bleeding Continues ! !
As a LAST RESORT used a Clotting Agent like “KWIK-Stop”

Wonder Dust Information

DO NOT put a Cygnet on the Pond that is Bleeding.
Once you let them go, it is tricky to get them again.

There is NO Reason to put the Cygnets in Ice Water..
Ice water may be helpful if the Cut Bleeds a little.
BUT only put the Wing Cut in, not the Cygnet.
Cygnets can not Thermoregulate..
Chilling them does nothing but Shock them.

If there is ANY Question the Cut might be OOZING Blood,
then keeping the Cygnet Dry and Quiet for the Rest of the Day to allow a GOOD Clot to form.

Keep Swans Safe and Dry

Try to CLEAN any Blood from the Cut Wing…
Snapping Turtles SMELL that tiny Drop of Blood and the Cygnets are like Fresh Meat in the Pond. If possible, keep the Cygnets with the Parents in a safe place for One Night.

Snapping Turtle

If you have SNAPPING TURTLES try to Remove them before the Cygnets Hatch.

Snapping Turtle
There are People – WildLife Control Services that will Trap and Remove them.

Trap for Snapping Turtles
You can Purchase Turtle Traps and Do this Yourself.

Talking with various Swan Owners over the years, I Suspect that the Folks who do not Pinion have a better survival rate for their Cygnets. The difference seems to be the tiny Blood Dot/Clot on the Wing Tip..

Healthy Mute Swan Cygnets

WONDER DUST – Farnam Company, Inc.
Please Read the Ratings and Reviews..
I am familiar with this Product.. Has Medicated Benefits.
I like this way to STOP Bleeding and Treat Minor Scrapes and Cuts on the Skin of a Swan and Cygnet.
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 Cctivated 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.

If Swans were living in the Wild, they would have a Feeding Range of 3-5 Square Miles to find what their Body’s needs to be Healthy.

Once we Pinion and they are Captive for us to Enjoy (Pets), the Swans depend on us to help them have the Nutrients that their Healthy Bodies require.

A Pond with Natural Underwater Plants will be Grazed on ALL Day.
There will be Insects and Under Water Critters that will help provide Nature Protein and Calcium.

The Grain-Poultry Feed Mixture adds Nutrients that a Pond may not provide.
With the Pond, Lawn Grass and Poultry Feed Mixture.. the Swans will do nicely.

I am sending general info about temporary labeling for the Cygnets…
If you Label them so you can keep track of which is which…
SAVE the WING TIPs that are snipped off… LABEL Store Properly.

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.
Place in Paper Envelope Label carefully, Refrigerate in a DRY Container.
This can be sent in for their DNA-Sex Test..
CALL Avian BioTech for Instructions.

Mute Swan Cygnets
If you have Cygnets in the Future… PLEASE Pinion them..
it is so much easier to find Homes and care for Swans that are Permanently Grounded.   It is the Responsible thing to do.

Pinioned Mute Swan Cygnet A Four Month Old Mute Cygnet Ready for a Forever Home.

This a Work in Progress….. As I Learn I will Add.

Collected and Composed by Linda M.Sweger     June 2018
1 (717) 732-6216    StarBug@comcast.net

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