Mute swan: DWHC focus species 2015

The mute swan (Cygnus olor) has been chosen as the DWHC focus species for 2015. 

The DWHC focus species program was set up in 2011 and aims to increase the number of submissions of a particular species in order to improve our knowledge about the general health status of populations of wildlife species in the Netherlands and to monitor the occurrence and distribution of particular diseases in these populations.

Why the mute swan?

Mute swans are found throughout the Netherlands; they are large white birds meaning that carcasses can be spotted easily. In previous years, results from post-mortem investigations performed at the DWHC have shown a range of inflammatory conditions for which the causative pathogen could not be identified. As focus species in 2015 the DWHC hopes to be able to shed more light on the general health statuts of these birds in the Netherlands and possibly identify the main infectious challenges and their distribution.

In order to do this DWHC, together with the Dutch Centre for Field Ornithology (SOVON) hope to receive at least 40 birds from all over the country throughout the year. The public and conservation and ranger organisations will be called on to report any mute swan cadavers.

How to report finding a dead mute swan

Please help by reporting finding a dead bird via the submission form on our website. For microscopic examination of these animals it is essential that the cadavers are in a fresh state i.e. not dead for more than one day; cadavers should not be frozen. It is therefore preferable to report dead birds as soon as possible and to keep the cadaver in a cool (not frozen) place until it can be collected. After submitting your form you will be contacted by the DWHC who will help decide whether the bird is suitable for submission and advise you on how to package the cadaver and arrange collection of the packaged swan from your home or place of work.

This will also contribute to the Europe-wide avian influenza surveillance project; in addition to mute swans, the EU recommends the testing of a range of other birds, many of which are also found in the Netherlands, including ducks, geese, swans, great crested grebes, herons, seagulls, waders, coots and other species of marsh and wetland birds, members of the crow family and birds of prey.