Swans in the City

Recent bad weather and frozen waterways have brought animals away from their normal habitats and into the built up areas where we live, in the hunt for food and shelter.

Swan searches for food

Swan eats food made available for it from a householder.

Swans from the Lancaster canal have left the waterway and headed inland, rummaging through dustbins and gardens in search of food or for something to do.


Delays in collecting rubbish left after christmas due to frozen roads and icy conditions have provided a rich supply of both food and danger.

We often hear about animals getting tangled up in discarded fishing line left on the banks of rivers but nothing can prepare animals for the dangers of sharp metal cans, plastics and general household rubbish.

Councils advise keeping dustbins and recycling boxes firmly closed to avoid animals gaining access. Foxes, mice and even feral cats and dogs are all guilty of breaking into bags and boxes.

Placing a rock or a bungee strap across a box lid is an ideal solution to keep it in place.

This swan was kept under supervision and away from the contents of the dustbins. Food and fresh water was made available, before he or she returned to a nearby waterway.


Swans are happy both on salt water and fresh.

Swan hunting for food

Swan hunting for food

Water based vegetation and grass are the usual food for swans.

Being a large bird an adult swan can consume around 4kg per day along with small bits of grit to help break it down in their stomachs.

It has also been known for swans to eat grain, frogs, small fish and insects.

Swans near to humans will no doubt be fed bread at some point however this is not ideal as it can swell in their stomachs.

Mouldy bread is poisonous to them.

An adult swan can live to be around 50 years old however normally they live around 5 years. The average weight of a male swan is around 10kg.

The swan is a member of the same genus as the duck, Anatidae.

Royal connections

The Queen has the prerogative right of ownership for all the mute swans in England and Wales.

Swan Upping is the annual census of the swan population on stretches of the Thames in the counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

This historic ceremony dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown claimed ownership of all mute swans. At that time swans were regarded as a delicious dish at banquets and feasts.

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