Swans are one of the most attractive and graceful birds that you will find on the water. In the UK, the importance and history of the swan date right back to when Henry III was on the throne. For such a large bird, you may have wondered, like me, how they manage to sustain themselves and in this article, I will answer the question. What do swans eat?\n\n\n\nAs a general rule, Swans are herbivores and eat a broad range of natural foods, but their choices depend largely on the locations they inhabit. Swans found near freshwater typically eat pondweed, stonewort, wigeon grass, and a range of freshwater insects and molluscs in very small amounts. Those swans found near saltwater usually consume eat sea arrow grass, salt marsh grass, eelgrass, club rush and green algae and, in very small amounts, saltwater insects and molluscs.\n\n\n\nThere is also one really surprising and amazing ability that both Swans and ducks are able to do when it comes to drinking. Read on to find out more!\n\n\n\nWhat do swans eat in nature?\n\n\n\nGenerally, the diet of a swan will depend on the availability of food in their natural habit. Swans are primarily herbivores but are known to unintentionally ingest insects and molluscs that become entangled in the weed and grasses that they eat. Of course, there are no guarantees that those swans we see on freshwater will feed in the same location, but logic would suggest that this would be the case. However, if both freshwater and saltwater sources are nearby, it would be safe to assume that they will feed in the location with the most readily available food source and offers safety from predators. \n\n\n\nI have not found any evidence that swans particularly favour freshwater feeding over saltwater feeding. Still, we know that they prefer fresh water for drinking, so that it may be a safe assumption. Interestingly, like many other ducks, swans can actually drink salt water using a special gland that cleverly extracts salt from the bloodstream.\n\n\n\n\n\n\n\nThe salt is then concentrated in a liquid and removed from the body via their bill.\n\n\n\nFun Fact: Male swans are called Cobs, and Females are called Pens.\n\n\n\nShould we feed the swans?\n\n\n\nThe diet of a freshwater swan largely consists of pondweed, but they are often seen coming out of the pond to feed on grass. Amazingly, adult mute swans can weigh as much as 14kg, and so regular feeding is a necessity. Still, unlike many other birds, Swans are not particularly greedy and will typically only eat what they require.\n\n\n\nAlthough many swans can find food adequately, recent studies have shown that feeding by humans may have been supporting them more than first thought. In 2018, a campaign in the UK called 'Ban the Bread' was brought to the public attention by coverage in the national press. This campaign was in response to increasing reports of 'Angel Wings', a deformity affecting waterfowl in which birds appear to have wings (angel wings) protruding at right angles from their bodies. Canadian Geese appeared to be particularly susceptible along with many other species, including Swans. \n\n\n\nThe cause was thought to be bread and the white variety that has little nutritional value. As a result of this campaign, many people reduced the amount they fed the birds, with many people stopping feeding the birds entirely. Months after this campaign, reports started to come in of starving Swans up and down the country. \n\n\n\nWhat foods can I feed a Swan?\n\n\n\nThe facts are that bread is safe to feed Swan and ducks. However, this advice comes with the caveat that it should be done in moderation. The problem with this is that although it is safe to feed both Swans and ducks with bread, we have no way of knowing how much they consume. It is not uncommon to see people feeding the birds with leftover bread. In fact, on some visits to my local pond, I have seen families emptying entire loaves of bread onto the floor! Uneaten bread attracts vermin such as rats, and these are also a common sight at the water's edge at many of our ponds. \n\n\n\nFact: Never feed mouldy bread to Swans or ducks\n\n\n\nSome of the best foods that you can feed to Swans are greens such as lettuce or spinach. These resemble the foods they will find in or around the pond and are easily consumed by Swans. Other foods include wheat, corn or other similar grains. Swans will happily take these foods from the water, and it is recommended that food is thrown into the water rather than onto the ground at the water's edge. Food that sinks during feeding is not lost, however, as Swans will use their very long necks to reach down in deeper waters to find the food. This process is called 'upending' and is results in only their backside protruding above the surface. A Swans distinctive long neck gives them a distinct advantage in reaching food, allowing them to reach food that would otherwise be lost to the depths.\n\n\n\nOther related question asked\n\n\n\nIs it normal for a swan to fold one of its legs up onto its back? Swans have the ability to fold their legs onto their backs and will do this to regulate body temperature. Although it may appear uncomfortable, the process is believed to be very similar to the way humans cross their legs and is perfectly comfortable for the birds.\n\n\n\nWhat predators do Swans have? Swans and their young have several predators in the wild, including magpies, pike, crows and even large pike and perch. They are also at risk from pets such as dogs that often accompany families to duck pond visits.\n\n\n\nDo Swans mate for life? A general rule, Swans do mate for life. However, like other bird species, if the pairing mate is lost, Swans may look for another mate. \n\n\n\nSee Also\n\n\n\nWhy can\u2019t birds see glass?Why don\u2019t birds hibernate?Do bird feeders need to be cleaned?Why do birds fly in a V?Why do birds throw seed out of feeder?