Are Swans Dangerous? Be Safe!
And Keep Your Pets Safe!

Swans are perceived as delicate, beautiful creatures but do they have a scary side to them? Let's find out!

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Iñigo Navarro

September 15, 2021


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What’s This Post About?

Swans are beautiful white birds that belong to the Anatidae family. They are known to be graceful birds that glide majestically when flying or swimming. Ducks and geese are the closest relatives of a swan and possess certain qualities similar to them.

These bird species are popular waterfowls, and only seven swan species exist worldwide. These seven species are spread across five continents. This post is all about swans and their behavior which most of you might not even be aware of. 

Yes, swans are aggressive and dangerous large birds. They are a threat to humans and can distort wildlife or wetland habitats. Nesting swans can get uncontrollable when angry. They are overprotective about their territory and may harm any human or animal who comes close to their nest or their babies.

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Are Swans Aggressive?

The other side of swans.

If a human or an animal steps foot near a swan’s nest, they might get aggressive, hiss, and flap their wings rapidly. The truth is that swans are defensive more than aggressive. They only attack if they sense threat or danger towards their young or their nesting area.

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There are seven different species of swans, but the main three frequently known to be aggressive are Whooper, Bewick’s, and Mute Swans. They show aggression towards other humans and birds and their species, too, mainly for food sources.

PRO-TIP

Do not go near a swan when it is nesting during the breeding season. Male swans can aggressively defend their nests and chase away all people and animals near the female swan.

Warning Signs

Swan’s when aggressive are presumed to prepare for an attack. The fact is that swans tend to attack as a last resort; they give many warnings as a chance for humans to save themselves. The warning hints displayed by the swans are mainly in this order:

  1. They are ruffling their feathers without moving physically to appear larger than usual.
  2. Standing upright without lifting the neck, try to appear as tall as possible.
  3. At this point, the feathers will be fully ruffled, and the neck will be elevated.
  4. The posture of the swan will now be assisted by a hissing noise along with the wings being extended.
  5. The swan will now start moving towards you with their necks arched and face lowered.
  6. If you are still seen as a threat to the swan, it will convert its slow walk to a fast run or a march.
  7. The swan will extend and flap its wings rapidly at you despite all the warnings if you are seen as a constant threat.
  8. You might even witness the swan pecking its beak at you or trying to bite you as a last resort.

FUN FACT

Swans are known to be one of the most benevolent animals in the animal kingdom. They give many separate warnings before physically attacking someone.

Physical Ability

Swans are not very strong birds. Some suggest that swans have enough power to break a person’s arm or leg. However, this is not the truth. Swans are not physically strong enough, nor do they have any sharp features that can break the bones of an adult.

There have been rare instances where swans have been reported to attack or break the arms of a small child or an older person. But this can result from external factors such as falling hard, weak bone structure, etc.

FUN FACT

A swan bite is very gentle as they do not have teeth; they do not peck and usually go for a bite.

Is a Swan Attack Dangerous?

Swan attack and how dangerous their bite is.

Swan attack is rarely seen. There have not been many incidents reported of severe injury from a swan attack. Hence, it can be said that swan attacks are not too dangerous, but precautions should always be taken.

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Swans are considered as one of the largest waterfowls in the regions of Europe and North America. They have a wingspan of up to 7.9 feet and weigh approximately 28 pounds. In addition, they have fantastic flying and swimming capabilities.

These aggressive birds possess a strong beak to pull or bite humans or animals they see as a threat. However, their bite can not cause serious harm as these birds do not contain teeth. The most potent weapon swans have is their wings.

Rapidly flapping of wings can damage the limb of a coyote or a fox, but serious injuries are pretty rare when it comes to swan attacks.

Swans only attack those who tend to come near their nest or their young. A swan attack may cause some bruising, but nothing fatal can happen.

INTERESTING FACT

Swans, when angered, curve their neck backward, raise their wings, and march forwards with a hissing noise. This whole act is known as 'busking'.

Can a Human Touch Swans? Will They Bite?

Is it advisable to pet birds, especially swans?

A human can touch a swan, but it is risky. You never know when the swan may not like what you are doing and may react by biting you.

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If you have reached this far in this post, you may now be aware of the fact that swans are dangerous. They are large birds with mighty wings and strong beaks. They get aggressive if they sense a threat and will not hesitate to attack.

Humans can touch a swan while feeding it food. It depends on the swan whether it will eat from your hand or bite you so that you drop the food, and they eat it. Remember, do not wince, or move your hand as the birds may misinterpret the movement as a threat.

Things you should not do when near a swan:

  • Do not flinch
  • Do not directly stare at them
  • Do not stand up fast
  • Do not grab the swan
  • Do not stroke or pet the swan

FUN FACT

Swans are the heaviest flying birds and the most significant native waterfowl in North America. They have a wingspan of up to 10 feet.

Are Mute Swans Dangerous?

A bit about other swan species.

Mute Swans, like other swan species, are dangerous. They are a danger to humans, wetland habitats, and native wildlife. They can cause destruction and harm the habitat if angered.

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Mute swans are an extension of the swan species. They are known as mute swans because they are less vocal than other species.

FUN FACT

Mute swans are less vocal. The only noise heard from them is the swishing of their wings. The legend states that ‘swan song’ refers to this swan species, symbolizing that it is silent until the last moment of its life.

Danger To Native Wildlife

Mute swans are the most hostile out of all waterfowl species. They get aggressive during the brooding and nesting seasons, so much so that they display violence towards other birds and chase them away from their native feeding and nesting areas by killing, injuring, or attacking them.

The increase in the presence of mute swans has become a threat to the breeding of the trumpeter swan species. These mute swans have been reported to be a danger to the native wildlife as there have been several instances where these swans have killed at least fifty geese and ducks in a zoo.

INTERESTING FACT

Mute swans, based on their instincts, go after all waterfowl species.

Threat To Humans

These large birds do not fear human beings and may not think twice before attacking someone. However, swans tend to get very aggressive towards humans who come near their territory.

Swans are protective about their area and may pose a threat to anyone who enters their land. It was reported that mute swans once attacked people on the shore and in a watercraft.

Here is a video of how aggressive swans attacked the elderly:

PRO-TIP

Stay far away from the areas where swans are spotted. You can use binoculars to look at them up closely.

Captive Swans

Swans that are raised in captivity display a different behavior than the ones living in the wild. It was observed that swans born and raised in captivity are not hostile nor exhibit dangerous behavior. Instead, they were seen sharing food with other swans, ducks, and geese on the same farm.

The ones raised in the wild are always watching out for danger and may drive other birds or animals away from the place they are foraging on.

INTERESTING FACT

A group of swans grouped is known as ‘bevy,’ ‘drift,’ ‘school,’ ‘ballet,’ and ‘regatta’ of swans.

Damage Of Wetlands

Mute swans survive on water plants such as waterweed, pondweed, wild celery, and wild rice. Swans tend to consume at least 4 to 8 pounds of plants per day. They tend to dominate habitat throughout the year in many areas.

This grazing behavior of mute swans leads to the depletion of aquatic vegetation. Adult swans uproot more plants than they consume. Constant consumption does not give time for the vegetation to grow, which is why the wetland habitat gets distorted.

The removal of wetland plants may damage aquatic life as many fish species depend on these plants for food and shelter. This eventually leads to the slow detrition of the ecosystem.

FUN FACT

The maximum speed of a mute swan recorded was 50 to 55mph. They have fantastic flight and swimming abilities.

How to Stop a Swan Attack?

Preventive measures should be taken in case of a swan attack.

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Swans get dangerous when it comes to their territory. To stop a swan attack, you should leave its territory as soon as you observe the warning signs. Walk away slowly, do not run, shout, and immediately seek medical help in case of any injury.

If a human or an animal tries to cross a swan’s territory, they may have to face inevitable consequences. If you are looking for ways to avoid or stop a swan attack, you’ve come to the right place. Read the steps below for some valuable tips.

FUN FACT

Swans can explore deeper areas in the water than geese and ducks as they have longer necks.

Look Out for Warning Signs

Warning signs that the swans give are mentioned in this post above. If you notice any warning signs, it will be in your best interest to slowly move away from the swan.  The swan may ruffle its feathers, make a hissing noise, or flap its wings to show aggression.

PRO-TIP

Pay attention to the minor signs when you're near a swan. Slowly move away to stop the swan from attacking you.

Walk Away from The Swan

Leave before the swan starts chasing you angrily. If you notice that the swan is not in a good mood, start moving away from it. Do not run or jump in front of the swan. Instead, walk away slowly till the swan stops making aggressive gestures.

If the situation is such that the swan has started chasing, you then need to calm down and slowly move backward while facing the swan. Make sure you don’t limp, walk fast, or fall as it might trigger the bird.

FUN FACT

Swans’ mate for life and are very protective of their partner. They touch their beaks to kiss, with their neck forming a heart shape.

Stay Calm

It would be best if you don’t appear tensed and frightened. If the swan senses fear in your eyes and posture, it might attack. Take a few deep breaths while taking steps backward.

Do not worry. It is very rare for a swan to attack, be regular, and back away to prove that you will not harm the bird or its babies.

INTERESTING FACT

A phobia of swans is known as Cynophobia or Kynophobia.

Seek Medical Attention

If the swan bites you or trips you over, you must seek medical attention for the injury. The swan’s wings are strong; if they flap them hard at you, you might get bruised.

Get your body examined for any bleeding; you may require stitches if you have tripped over and hit a rock.

Can You Befriend a Swan?

Swans, like other birds, may go through many emotions. Keep reading to find out.

It is not impossible to befriend a swan. You can start by feeding swans the food they like. You need to provide them enough amount of food that they start liking you. The process of eating, sleeping, feeding, and repeat should be followed if you want to befriend a swan.

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FUN FACT

Swans symbolize energy, grace, beauty, love, elegance, partnership, transformation, peace, purity, and devotion.

Grab The Swan’s Attention

In order to start befriending a swan, you need to make sure that it likes you and does not perceive you as a threat. A swan is always hungry; if you want to gain this bird’s attention, you need to offer it food or snacks that they like. You can go for:

  • Wheat
  • Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Swan Feed
  • Vegetable matter

PRO-TIP

Never feed swan’s moldy bread; it can harm a swan’s immune system. Bread should not be the only thing a swan should consume. It should be balanced with other healthy food sources like vegetables.

Offer It Food

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Once you have the swan’s attention, you need to dish out the food source slowly and calmly in front of it. Make sure that the food is plenty as the swans are always looking for more.

If you want to befriend the swan as quickly as possible, you need to feed them many foods.

Eat, Sleep, Feed, Repeat

This is one process you need to focus on when trying to gain the trust of a swan. The swans enjoy a life where they eat and sleep all the time. They are hungry animals and love to spend most of their free time sleeping.

If you successfully carry out all these steps, you will easily make a swan-like you.

FUN FACT

Swans can die of a broken heart. In addition, there have been swan deaths reported due to the end of their partner.

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Keep Reading!

The fact that swans are dangerous large birds has been established by now. They might be beautiful to look at, but a safe distance should always be maintained. Just keep in mind, if you ever come across an aggressive swan, do not turn away or run fast; this might trigger the bird’s attacking instincts.

This post is a valuable guide on how to avoid a swan attack. You can keep these tips in mind for when you come in contact with a swan next time.

Swans can recognize people; if you are successful in befriending them, they will not doubt your intentions.

If you are keen to learn more about other large waterfowls, you can read up on this post to know whether ducks like humans or not and whether they show emotions or affection.

Do Ducks Like Humans? Do They Show Emotions Or Affection?

Ducks are moody birds; however, they can be very friendly and playful if in a good mood. Keep reading to learn more about ducks.

Iñigo Navarro Picture

By Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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Iñigo Navarro Picture

Iñigo Navarro

Bird Watching USA

My name is Inigo and I'm the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I've become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I've learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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