Do Swans Eat Fish?

Swans are the largest waterfowl species of the Anatidae family (which also includes ducks and geese). Since these birds are so big, you might think that they are carnivores and that they eat a diet of mostly fish. But how true is that? Do swans really eat a lot of fish? 

Do swans eat fish? 

Despite their large size, swans are primarily herbivores, but they do sometimes also eat other animals, such as fish! For the most part, a swan’s diet is made up of aquatic vegetation and they usually eat while floating on the water. With that being said, swans will sometimes also eat other small animals that are near their plant vegetation. Swans will eat fish, frogs, insects, worms, and mollusks on occasion. 

Some of the aquatic plant life that these birds like to eat include algae, coontail, muskgrass, pondweed, waterweed, wild celery, and wild rice.  

RELATED: Do Swans Have Teeth?

Interestingly enough, young swans are more likely to eat animal matter than adult swans! Once a swan becomes an adult, they eat less and less animal matter and rely much more heavily on plant matter. And when an adult swan does eat an animal, it is usually by accident!

Swan with chicks
Swan with chicks

If a fish or frog (as well as fish or frog eggs) are entwined in some of the plant matter that the swan is trying to eat, the swan may unintentionally eat the fish or frog! It is estimated that an adult swan’s diet is made up of about 90% plant life.  

Since the diet of a swan is mostly plant-based, swans need to eat a lot of food. This is because green vegetation is difficult to digest because it contains large amounts of cellulose. They have to expend a lot of energy in order to process and digest their food.

This means that on an average day, swans will likely eat about four to seven pounds of food every day! That works out to about 20%-25% of their total body weight (swans usually weigh about 20 to 27 pounds when they are fully grown)!  

RELATED: All Your Duck Food Questions – Answered (70+ Foods Examined)

What type of fish do swans eat? 

Swan in front of Mt Fuji
Swan in front of Mt Fuji

If a swan were to eat a fish, it would likely be a small fish! Swans can be found all over the world, ranging from Australia to South America, but the vast majority of swans are found in portions of the northern United States and Canada. In these areas, swans will likely be found on lakes and rivers.

Some of the smaller fish that swans might be in contact with within these areas include the Devils Hole pupfish, the Moapa dace, and minnows.  

What do baby swans eat? 

Baby swans, which are known as cygnets, cannot dip their heads into the water for the first week or so, so they will have to eat foods that are on, or very close to, the surface of the water. Cygnets will eat some floating plants, but they will eat a relatively large amount of fish, tadpoles, and insects during this time.

As cygnets continue to grow and develop, they will eat less animal matter and be able to duck their heads into the water to get the plants that they love to eat. Swans are considered to be cygnets for approximately their first year of life.  

Swans eating bread
Swans eating bread

RELATED: 33 Duck Questions Answered (The Ultimate Duck FAQ)

Can swans eat bread? 

Swans, ducks, and geese are some of the most popular wild animals that people enjoy feeding- and bread is the common go-to for feeding these birds. But is bread actually good for swans? 

Bread is like a type of junk food for swans. This is because it provides the animal with minimal nutritional value and too much bread can even lead to nutritional balances, which could cause potentially life-threatening complications for the swan.

Experts believe that feeding a swan one piece of bread is equivalent to a human eating two slices of pizza- while it may taste good, it does not offer any nutrients that are needed. Plus, it is not recommended that humans feed wild swans because it can cause them to become dependent on humans, and it may increase the local population of swans.

f the swan is already reliant on feedings from humans, shredded lettuce, corn, or peas are much better options for them than bread.  

Leave a Comment