What we do
Swan Lifeline rescue and provide shelter and treatment for sick and injured swans. With a view to returning them to the wild as soon as possible.
We educate the public about the incidence and effects of pollution and human activities on swans and other wildfowl on the UK's rivers and waterways.
We aim to provide a professionally managed treatment centre to continue in perpetuity, not dependent upon any one person or group for its survival.
Rescue, Treatment & Release
Our centre on Cuckoo Weir Island includes a dedicated treatment centre, intensive care unit, indoor pens and outside pens for recuperation, decontamination facilities, specialist cygnet enclosures, offices and a dedicated meeting room for interactive talks suitable for small groups.
We have two full time and one part time members of staff.
Our Manager lives permanently on site, ensuring that the swans in our care are looked after 365 days a year.
We can house 180 swans and on average we are called to rescue over 700 swans and admit over 300 for treatment in any one year. For more information see the statistics.
Swans in the UK are “owned” by The Crown, The Worshipful Company of Vintners and The Worshipful Company of Dyers. To read more about the work they do for the preservation and conservation of swans click on the links.
Whenever possible, minor injuries to swans, including de-tackling, are handled at the site of the rescue. If further treatment is needed or the injuries cannot be dealt with the swans are bought back to the centre, where we can offer specialised treatment.
We work closely with a local veterinary group, Forest House Vets, whose experts can carry out major trauma operations.
We do not normally offer sanctuary to the swans, preferring instead to return them to their natural wild state. For those swans with long-term injuries and unable to survive in the wild, we find new safe homes usually on private properties with lakes. For more information see 'Private Lakes'
To enable us to work as efficiently as possible and to maintain high levels of care, we treat swans only. Other species are referred to other wildlife or specialist groups.
Swan Lifeline is also involved with the protection and conservation of the swans in the UK, and our activities have benefited many other species of waterfowl. For more information see 'Conservation'.
British Trust for Ornithology
We work closely with The British Trust for Ornithology, which has existed since 1933 as an independent, scientific research trust, investigating the populations, movements and ecology of birds. Swan Lifeline holds a ringing licence and records birds admitted into care and previously unringed birds are ringed before release.
Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology
We have for many years worked with the renowned research team at Oxford University; in the 1990s its Swan Study Group identified many of the problems for mute swans, and published internationally-recognised papers. For more information see 'Releases'.
Education & Training
- We provide training in swan-handling to the Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Network Rail and interested groups.
- Students come to us as part of their ongoing training or work-experience course. We have a close liaison with Berkshire College of Agriculture and The Royal Veterinary College.
- We work with The National Citizen Service whose students come to us in the holidays to carry out community projects.
- We work with our local Brownie packs who complete their wildlife badges at the site.
- We work with the Community Service Probation Office, enabling offenders to complete their community service.
- We work with local community partnership groups who provide large work parties from local businesses.
- We give illustrated talks to interested parties for a small
- We give talks in local schools about swans and the importance of wildlife conservation.
- We attend joint meetings with other conservation groups.
Her Majesty's Swan Marker and Swan Warden
We work closely with Her Majesty's Swan Warden, and handle swans under the authority of the former who advises Natural England.