Swans are waterfowl of the duck family of the goose family.
They cannot dive, so they forage for food in shallow water. Their diet is dominated by aquatic plants, worms, crustaceans, and mollusks.
What swans eat depends on their habitat and the time of year. An adult bird eats 3-4.5 kg of food per day.
What do swans eat in the wild?
Swans are strong and hardy. Their torso structure and well-developed muscles allow them to swim well.
To get food, the bird dips its neck into the water to the depth of one meter and catches with its beak everything in the water, in the mud at the bottom of shallows, or near the shore.
Having grasped the food, it lets the water flow away and separates edible substances with its sensitive tongue. This is how the swan gets most of its food.
In the wild, swans eat the following types of food:
- aquatic vegetation (algae);
- insects and their larvae;
- small fish and amphibians.
Swans pluck leaves from willow branches down to the water and coastal grass. They like to eat grain crops in the fields: wheat, corn, bread grains.
What do swans eat in the wild in winter?
Swans easily tolerate the cold. When it’s freezing, they hardly move, tucking their paws under their bodies, or move very slowly so as not to expend energy.
When bodies of water in the northwest are covered with ice, birds move to ice-free southern lakes and seashores, where they feed until the following spring.
In winter, the whooper swans, trumpeter swans, and other species fly around fields in search of food, eating the remains of grass and cereal crops from them.
Ornithologists say that healthy swans should be fed only when the temperature drops to minus 15° in winter.
What can a person feed swans?
In the swans’ natural habitat, it is better not to feed swans at all. They get used to “bread places” and do not want to get their own food.
With the onset of cold weather birds suffers, they can’t orientate themselves and fly away in search of unfrozen reservoirs. As a result, they become ill and may die.
A person who feeds birds should know what the swan eats, and follow the following rules:
- Do not give them black bread, it is poorly digested and can lead to gastrointestinal diseases.
- White bread can be fed to birds in small quantities.
- You should not feed spoiled food to birds – it is deadly!
- In cold weather, it is useful to give swans shredded raw or half-cooked vegetables, steamed rice, and millet.
- In frosty weather, a grain mixture or mixed fodder without salt would be ideal.
The digestive organs of these birds are designed so that they need to wash down food with water, so feed should be thrown into the water or on the edge of the shore.
What do swans eat at home?
Swans feed both during the day and at night. The whooper, trumpeter, and tundra species can eat food weighing up to 25% of their own weight in a day.
In captivity, swans get used to a varied diet of mostly plant food. They quickly become accustomed to people, trust them and eat everything they present.
Food troughs should be placed on the shore or directly on the water or ice. They are filled with bird feed and other dry food.
Swan breeders need to know what they eat. The standard menu for domesticated birds includes:
- Cereals: oats, millet, barley, wheat;
- finely chopped vegetables: carrots, cabbage, boiled potatoes;
The food is put into a basin of clean water, near which a place for lying down is arranged. For this purpose, bedding 30-40 cm high is laid, which also serves as additional food for swans.
With a sudden change of temperature, illness, death of a life partner, swans need to be fed with special attention. It is necessary to add vitamins and mineral supplements to the usual diet.
Birds are not fastidious, instead of water they gladly drink milk, and eggs and meat waste will quite replace animal food that a swan could find on its own in nature.
During the cold season, from October to May, zoos include 0.5% yeast in the diet of swans.
In captivity, young swans are given millet gruel, hard-boiled eggs, minced fish, and meat.
The diet of swans consists of plant and animal food. In their natural habitat, swans eat mostly what they can get themselves: aquatic and coastal vegetation, insects, and fish.
In the fields, they delicatessen with cultivated plants: corn, cereals, some species eat raw potatoes.
The diet of domestic birds is diversified by humans, including vegetables, bread, and cereals.