What we do
Swan Lifeline rescue and provide shelter and treatment for sick and injured swans. Our aim is to return 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.
Our centre on Cuckoo Weir Island includes a dedicated treatment centre, intensive care unit (recently extended to nine heated pens). We have one full time and two part time members of staff.
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 and normally work within a 50 mile radius of our site. For more information see 'Statistics'.
We work with The RSPCA, Thames Valley Police, Metropolitan Police, Network Rail as well as other wildlife organisations whose inspectors will call us to help with swan rescues throughout the South East. Additionally we have links with The Rangers who work in country parks and call on us for advice and help.
We have a small staff team and aim to have someone on site 24/7 proving treatment and care to the swans. Our staff team, along with our volunteers take calls about injured swans, offer advice and carry out the rescues. If you want to find out more about common injuries to swans click here.
You will be able to spot our staff and volunteers when they are out on a rescue as they will be wearing our uniform and will always have their Swan LifeLine ID with them.
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.
To find out more about our rescues click here
Private lakes and safe sites
When a swan suffers a severe injury and after recuperation at our site, it is not always possible to release them into the wild.
The rule of thumb is that a swan must be able to fly, must be able to defend itself in a territorial dispute and must not be at risk from predators.
When a swan has a limp or permanent wing injury we do not do partial or full amputations as a general rule.
We are always looking for lakes that are a decent size for a pair of swans and that have an island, either natural or man made.
One of a swan's greatest predators are foxes who will kill if they are able therefore an island is essential to a swan that cannot fly. When we are offered a private lake or other site our staff will make a visit to inspect it for its suitability.
We will ask the owners to sign a form which explains that the swans are still owned by The Crown and that it’s future welfare.
Our education and training services
- We provide training in swan-handling to the Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Network Rail and other 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 donation.
- We give talks in local schools about swans and the importance of wildlife conservation.
- We attend joint meetings with other conservation groups.
Who we work with
Swan Lifeline works with Her Majesty's Swan Warden and Swan Marker and we handle swans under the authority of the former who advises Natural England.
British Trust for Ornithology
Swan Lifeline works closely with The British Trust for Ornithology, established in 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. https://www.bto.org/
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. http://egi.zoo.ox.ac.uk/