The swans that come into care suffer from a variety of problems.
One delightful looking one was found abandoned by its parents at only a few days old. Nature must have known something not apparent to the vet or to us after a day or two in care the cygnet had a fit and died. In other cases abandoned cygnets have grown up only to be found suffering from a deformed foot, aeroplane wing or similar.
Cygnets are sometimes separated from their parents by boats or by becoming carried over the weir or a lock race. If we are confident that we know the family we will make every effort to quickly return the cygnet to them. If we mistakenly choose the wrong family the adults will often attack the interloper.
Alder was admitted with one of the very worst injuries we have ever encountered. We do not know what caused it - it could have been barbed wire or fishing tackle. The skin had rolled back leaving several inches of raw flesh all round the neck. The wound was kept clear of infection and prevented from drying until the vet was able to stitch the loose edges together. One really curious point was that as the wound healed the cygnet grew white feathers leaving a distinctive band until the rest of his plumage also changed as he matured.
We have also had cygnets into care that have been bitten by pike, pecked by crows or herons and inevitably caught up in fishing tackle.
Yearlings possibly suffer more from flying accidents as their navigation skills may not be well developed. Also from territorial disputes, straying into other territories or being chased away by their own parents.
Many admissions are due to fishing tackle injuries that we have been unable to deal with on site.
Swans sometimes come into care with plumage contaminated by diesel or eve cooking oil. These are cleaned using washing up liquid. Swans hate to be dirty and in attempting to clean their plumage will ingest the substance on their feathers causing digestive problems.
We had one swan in that we named Painted Lady; this swan was admitted covered in marine paint. It was impossible to use thinners or similar de-contaminants as these would have been absorbed into the skin and caused a slow and painful death.