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Feed the Local Swans

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by Maz Serena Rockers (subscribe)
I love writing, art, music, food, finance, hanging out with my favourites & being a productive night owl.
Published December 23rd 2011

Swans are among the most beautiful and graceful birds in existence. Evidence is in the fact that there's even a ballet in their honour. Given their inherent superiority and elegance it's unsurprising that one would purposefully seek them to watch in their natural habitat. You can watch them or you can even feed them if you're not scared of getting close to the wonders of Mother Nature. The swans depicted in this article were found in Centennial Park in eastern Sydney but there are other swan-friendly locations.

Usually, swans tend to consume algae, underwater plants and other aquatic vegetation. They eat it while swimming and actually perform a valuable and free cleaning service for rivers and ponds by doing so. Swans eat small insects, grasses they find along the banks and cultivated grains. Their natural diet is preferable and almost guaranteed not to harm them. However, the cold winter months often mean that the weather conditions aren't as conducive to gathering food. This means that your assistance is most likely going to be of use and might even save their life. If you have some spare grass, feel free to grab it and feed it to them. Oats are also a highly appreciated example of nutrition for a swan. Be sure to buy some plain oats, without harmful additives. These are often inexpensive and can be purchased in your local supermarket.

This might seem like a bit of common sense, but don't feed the swans anything that isn't healthy for us humans. Fatty foods, starchy foods, junk food and fast food as well as sugary foods fall into the category of what you shouldn't feed to a swan under any circumstances.

A common misconception is that it's acceptable to feed the swans bread and chips. In actual fact, this can cause them digestive problems as well as pose other serious health risks. Keep breads, chips, cookies, cakes and processed cereals away from them. Cooked and processed foods in general are a terrible idea.

Anything you feed a swan should be of a small size, enough so that it could swallow it. Oats are once again perfect for this purpose. Alternatively, if you chop some vegetables that you're willing to part with – this would be great in those scarce winter months. Dark green lettuce, spinach, celery, alfalfa sprouts and shredded carrots are wonderful. If the swans aren't yet acclimatised to lettuce, it might take them a while to get used to it but it's not bad for them. Corn, including popcorn without any artificial colours or flavours is another great idea. Whole wheat grains, brown rice, lentils, split peas and small seeds are also good alternatives for swans. With vegetables, remember never to cook them, especially in the microwave to warm them up if you wish to do so. Warming up vegetables ever so slightly is often appreciated in the cold weather.

The feeding process itself is simple. You easily throw the food into the water so that it could be gulped with a sip of it to help with easy digestion. This is preferable to feeding them on the land because if they get used to leaving the water too much, the risk of dogs or other predators being able to reach them increases. Try not to draw too much attention to yourself and remember that no matter how pretty, these are still wild animals. In Centennial Park the swans are very friendly because they are often frequented by visitors and they come right up to you. If you're not careful, they can still nip you.

Feeding the swans is a very relaxing task and a great activity for the whole family. Just remember these tips and enjoy their beauty.
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Why? Elegance, grace, beauty and relaxing family fun
When: Any time, winter preferred
Where: Centennial Park or any other location with swans
Cost: Very low
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