Monday, December 20, 2010

The gift of life

Last evening a young woman arrived at my door breathless, Blackberry in hand. "You're the lady who rescues things? I asked your neighbours and they sent me to you...there's a swan on the road, it's got a broken wing and I was afraid it would get run over, it won't stay off the road."

All that in a rush!

I rolled me eyes and thought why me?  and then got busy asking all kinds of questions...then got on the phone  wondering all the while why a swan would be on the road so far from open water?

About ten minutes from here there is a lovely house with a pond in front - where I took these pictures - a male and female swan with cygnets swim on the pond from spring through to the first snowfall. I tried to find out the name of the owners. No luck. Finally I got in my car and drove down the road... flashers on, it was dark by now. There in a snowbank by the side of the road was the swan with a woman carefully guarding it and keeping it from going back on the road. It didn't register until much later that I didn't have my camera!

The upshot of all my phone calls to two vet friends was that if the bird had a broken wing the kindest thing to do was put it down, and a neighbour who could shoot birds had a shotgun and said he'd do it for me. We arrived about the same time, to find that the woman guarding the swan had remembered the name and found the phone number of the swan owner - not this one but the fellow who owns swans...she'd called and he was on his way.

We waited in the cold, chatting about nothing in particular but realizing eventually that the swan had walked up from the river - or been hit by a car. When the fellow who keeps swans arrived he had a crate in his van, picked the bird up and said "It's probably very tired, I'll keep it in my garage overnight and feed it. We'll see how it's doing in the morning."

He added that the bird's wings had been clipped, and what looked like an injury - broken quills - was an old injury. But he was amazed that the bird was about half a mile from the river. We finally concluded today that it got disoriented when the river froze where it was swimming and went looking for open water which it needs apparently to survive.

I didn't know that mute swans made noise- but this one objected to being picked up - but not to being put in the crate.

So this morning the swan saver called early. His male swan won't accept even his own off-spring, so he can't keep the new arrival. He proposed letting it go in a pond that stays open near his home. "Mine live in the river in a pond there year round - they're fine," he said. "I'll let this one go in the pond downriver a bit."

After many calls around and about - we decided the bird was better off living in the wild as it has been obviously for about two years - it's not a baby. So the swan will be released into a pond near where this fellow lives and feed will be dropped for it...and in spring if anyone wants a swan... well let me know!

What really got me was how many people stopped to see if they could help and were amazed to learn about the swan.


  1. Wow, what a story. I swear you could write a book :) It is so good to read that so many people wanted to help, sometimes people make you very proud you are a part of the race :)

  2. Hi Mindy - funny you should mention a book - I'm in the process and hope to e-publish in the spring... and yes some days people are terrific!