One of the most important and satisfying aspects of our job is to release swans back into the wild after they have been treated by us.
The code of practice states that a bird, where possible, should be released from where it was rescued. If the admission was the result of a territorial dispute we would not release it to the same area but find a safe site for it.
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. Cygnets will be released into a flock where they can learn to fly.
In an ideal situation the bird(s) are released where they can be monitored to ensure that they are coping well. We will also generally advise local swan watchers.
On release the rescuer will always endeavour to remain to see that the bird settles but we will also revisit the site on a regular basis.
We have been awarded a ringing licence for swans by The British Trust for Ornithology.
We do not release a swan unless it has been ringed and all the relevant information about it has been entered onto a central database.
This information helps us as when we rescue a swan as we are able to tell from its ring number how old it is, where it has come from and whether it has previously received treatment, enabling us to best assess the correct course of treatment and future release.
When we rescue a swan that is not registered with the BTO we will make sure that it is ringed before release.
Sometimes a swan will come into our centre with no previous record other than its ring number, alternatively there are swans that come into our centre on more than one occasion, usually because they are prone to flying accidents or have had a previous injury, for example a limp which has been spotted by a member of the public.
There are three types of rings, the smaller BTO ring can only be seen when the bird has been removed from the water. The Vintners’ and Dyers rings are also metal and a little larger- marked Dyers or Vintners’ loyalty along with their number. The larger Darvic ring can been seen more easily while the swan is on the water.
All types of ring contain information about the ownership of the swan, whether it is The Crown, The Worshipful Company of Vintners or The Worshipful Company of Dyers. Crown birds do not generally have an additional ring.