Waterfowl | BSAVA Library


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The wild waterfowl species that inhabit the varied habitats of the British wetlands are diverse, including swans, geese, ducks, and grebes. Escaped or released domestic geese and ducks may also be presented, and this overlap between wild and domestic can make rehabilitation and release decisions more complicated. This chapter covers: ecology and biology; anatomy and physiology; capture, handling and transportation; clinical assessment; first aid and hospitalization; anaesthesia and analgesia; specific conditions; therapeutics; husbandry; rearing of young waterfowl; rehabilitation and release; and legal considerations.

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26.1 Examples of common species of British waterfowl. (a) Mute swan (). (b) Whooper swan (). (c) Muscovy duck (). (d) Mandarin duck () with mallard () drake. (e) Pochard (). (f) Great crested grebe ().
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26.2 Lake at waterfowl rescue centre showing mute swans and Canada geese ().
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26.6 Mute swan on water resting its leg. This may be misinterpreted by members of the general public as a sign of injury. This natural position is not possible if the limb is fractured. (© Phil Scott)
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26.7 Carrying a mute swan. The wings are held under one arm and firmly against the handler’s body, leaving the other hand free to gently restrain the head.
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26.8 Carrying a mallard duck. The wings are held close to the body using both hands to prevent flapping and possible injury to the bird.
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26.9 Mute swans restrained for transportation in large shopping bags. (© Secret World Wildlife Rescue)
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26.10 Mute swan being restrained by a handler, leaving a second person free to perform a full clinical examination.
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26.12 Position of the medial metatarsal vein (arrowed) in a swan.
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26.14 Anaesthetized and intubated mute swan showing the endotracheal tube taped to the beak.
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26.15 Conscious dorsoventral radiograph of the elbow of a swan showing a slingshot that has resulted in fracture of the ulna.
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26.16 Mandibular splint made of thermoplastic material and sutured in place with polydioxanone in an anaesthetized and extubated mute swan cygnet.
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26.17 Large lure attached to the bill of a mute swan. (© Secret World Wildlife Rescue)
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26.18 Radiograph showing a single fishing hook (arrowed) in the oesophagus of a cygnet. The oesophagus is greatly distended with vegetation attached to, and obstructed by, the hook and line. (© Elizabeth Mullineaux)
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26.19 Swan with lead toxicosis. Note the ‘kinked’ neck position and bright green faecal staining on feathers.
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26.20 Juvenile mute swan with sinusitis in the right infraorbital sinus. Note the large swelling rostroventral to the right eye.
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26.21 (a) Nasal leeches ( spp.) and (b) being removed from the nasal cavity of a mute swan.
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26.22 Caudocranial radiograph of the leg of a mute swan showing severe septic arthritis of the intertarsal joint.
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26.24 Outdoor pen with one adult and several juvenile mute swans, showing fencing dividing the pens, an outside drainable pool with easily cleanable non-slip surface, and an indoor shelter which can be shut off from the pool.
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26.25 Small mallard ducklings in a rearing pen, showing a heat lamp sited at one side of the pen to create a heat gradient.
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26.26 Older mallard ducklings in a rearing pen, showing the use of flat feeding trays placed on a larger tray to keep the straw dry. Clean, dry straw and good ventilation are essential to stop straw being a disease risk.
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26.27 Mute swan in a ‘swan bag’ prior to release on to a safe water course.
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