Swan cake! Are Hampstead Heath visitors overfeeding cygnets?

Don't give them mouldy bread!

Thursday, 6th May 2021 — By Dan Carrier


New cygnets on Hampstead Heath [Louisa Green]

HAMPSTEAD Heath users have been urged not to “excessively feed” swans amid concerns about their weight.

Experts say that new cygnets seen on the pond will struggle to get airborne when the time comes to leave the nest if they get too heavy.

More people have fallen in love with the swans living on the Heath since the romance story revealed first in the New Journal last year: two swans met at a sanctuary and fell in love before having babies of their own.

The increased number of visitors during the lockdown months have also led to more feeding.

Swan sanctuary volunteer Louisa Green said: “The cygnets which needed to be rescued on the Heath during the 2020 season were extremely heavy. Seven-month-old female and male cygnets should weigh roughly 7kg and 9kg respectively, but our Heath cygnets on both the Hampstead and Highgate sides were nearly 30 per cent heavier.”


She added: “To give our swans the best chance, please bear in mind that you won’t be the only ones feeding the swans that day. If every single person or family brings a tub of swan pellets or half a loaf of bread each time, it adds up to a lot of food each day and prevents them from naturally foraging for themselves.”

Ms Green said: “It is perfectly fine to give them small amounts of peas, sweetcorn, lettuce, spinach, grain, seeds or bread to entice the cygnets over, but please, please avoid excessive amounts of food and never feed them meat, fish, dairy or mouldy bread.”

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