I regularly look at the eBird alerts to see what rare birds are showing up in my area. There had been several postings of the last few days about mute swans. Instead of doing my daily water aerobics today, I went to the spot where the latest sightings have been to get some pictures. I was fortunate to see three mute swans, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that one of the mute swans had a problem. I noticed that the right back leg of one of the mute swans was being held differently than the other birds. At one point, two of the mute swans flew to the other side of the pond, but the third swan just swam.
Later, they came out of the water and it was clear something was wrong with one of the swans. I didn’t know why there were mute swans in our vicinity because they shouldn’t be here. Also, these three birds were clearly sticking with each other. I am associated with a local wildlife rescue and wasn’t sure a rescue made sense. Taking the wounded bird away might allow the others to leave. When the wounded bird healed, where would it go? I took video and pictures of the wounds and called the local wildlife rehabilitator (The Ark) to get some guidance.
Oddly, my contact told me they already had my wounded swan. I had just left the swan, so I was puzzled how they picked it up so fast. I asked when they picked up the bird and she said “two days ago”. Obviously, I saw a different bird.
As we talked, my contact said the Ark thought that the bird they retrieved may have been raised by someone nearby and released after the birds got too big. Knowing there were three more birds made them believe that they may have all been released at the same time.
The Ark attempted to retrieve the wounded bird I found and they were unsuccessful. But, they realized the location was, for the most part, a good place for the swans to be. They had sufficient water and vegetation to feed. There is a nearby road that presents a danger, but otherwise it was a good place. They decided to return the wounded bird they had to the same pond where the other three birds were located. They recorded the release of the 4th bird and it was a reunion to bring a tear to your eye. The four birds appear to be happy together at this location.
Mute swans are considered an invasive species in most of the United States, so no public organization is likely to care about the outcome of these birds. Letting them make their way as best they can in this little pond is the best these birds can hope for. And local folks can get a great view of these beautiful birds.
In the following video, you can see three of the swans. Note that one of the swans holds its right back leg awkwardly and when it is on land, it can’t walk.