This for us is the very best bit! As soon as a bird is fully recovered we release it back to the wild*. There is a code of practice that states a bird should be released from whence it came. Naturally if the admission is a result of a territorial dispute we do not put the swan back where it will get beaten up again. It is also not generally possible to return cygnets to their parents. If the cygnet has been away for more than two or three days they will not accept it. In this case we often have to keep the cygnets until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
In an ideal situation the bird(s) are released where they can be monitored by interested parties to ensure that they are coping well. In cases where the bird has a distinctive deformity which could cause an un-initiated person to believe it unwell we try to ensure it is issued with a Darvic ring as this eases identification.
On release the rescuer will always endeavour to remain for quite a considerable time to see that the bird settles. One of the first things that happens is that the bird(s) will have a thorough bath. Although we have excellent facilties at Cuckoo Weir it obviously cannot compare to a whole river!
*See the section on sheltered housing for those who are unable to be returned to the wild.