07 February 2011

Death on the lakes

In the past week about 20 swans have died mysteriously on the lakes, not counting the three I spotted today. Out of only 50 that is an unusually high percentage, and the numbers are climbing. This has put me in a Sherlock mode: I want to know what is being done. The information has been contradicting at times, and scattered ranging from "maybe they are just taking a nap," to "it is only natural that the weak succumb". 



Taking a nap..

My concern for the water birds started already last winter, when I got in touch with the animal control lady to hear what I could do to help. And it turned out that there is a useful set of guidelines, but allow me to introduce you to the City's politics: the decision is made on the highest level that these guidelines not be made available to the general public. On the grounds that advising on feeding would only encourage more feeding, and the best thing for the birds would be to leave the lakes altogether during winter. But there are also no signs discouraging feeding. No information available whatsoever, and I find that so incredibly idiotic! Since when was knowledge a bad thing? And why are we being treated like children? The animal control lady, employed by the City, was not willing to admit that this may not have been the ideal approach. She did, however, share some of the hush-hush information.

The hush-hush information:
White bread is for birds what popcorn is to humans: empty fillings that pass through the digestive system very fast. The best diet is whole grains, preferably served on the rocks (as on the icy part of the lake), and not directly in the water, as this could lead to bacteria in the water and suck out the oxygen. The bad thing about feeding the swans during the winter is the fear that it will attract the weaker birds not strong enough to make it on their own, and that they would transmit diseases to the healthy ones. Classic in-the-wild swan behavior allows for switching to the slow burner, lying completely still and not spending energy chasing food, but simply tapping from the reserves for at period of up to two months. (End of hush-hush information)

The reality:
Switching to the slow burner is not an option for the city swans. People walk on the ice, we continue our feeding and on occasions like New Years Evening we have insane fireworks and other stressful activities. There is no place to rest and save the batteries. Feeding must be kept up or cut off entirely.

The lake in the end near the Osterbro side is separated from the others. And because the nearby hospital filters out water here it is warmer than the other lakes, and that has not gone unnoticed with the water birds. The water holes are bigger, and since they have been fed all year, staying put is not necessarily a symptom of weakness. The birds have simply gathered in the warmest and friendliest water in Copenhagen. What kind of survivor leaves that behind?

Attack mode, the itchy beak

The swans last year at this time.

Off the record, a.k.a. the truth:
I have talked to several experts by now, and none of them wants to go on record with their opinions, as quite a few of them contradict that of the City's. Not having signs with guidelines is not surprisingly one of them. In the lakes outside the city where the swans do switch to the slow burner, people throw rocks and sticks at them, and send out dogs (I know, people are idiots sometimes, the more reason to educate them), to check if the swans are still alive. A simple sign advising them not to would fix that. We have been told repeatedly that feeding the swans is not a great idea, so more (including me) have stopped. And now the swans are starving, and several of them are underweight. I can't tell you how fast I ran to feed them once I learned about this. 

The survivors

Today.

White bread, formerly accused of being popcorn, is far better than nothing because it will get them through the winter, and later they can seek out the minerals and other things they need to balance the diet. We should feed them white bread and rye bread (this coming from an expert and non-city payee, mind you).

Death on the lakes:
Several ministries are involved by now. One have autopsied a number of the dead swans to successfully rule out the bird flu. Another department is currently looking into other causes. I wanted to know if well-meaning civilians could have fed the birds something to cause this, but short of poison there is nothing we can feed them that will kill off so many birds at once. So far the mystery remains, and just today I spotted another three dead swans. At this pace there may not be any feeding signs necessary by next winter. That, my dear Watson is elementary.



...three.

21 comments:

  1. aaaiiij, det er da forfærdeligt! Jeg har, heldigvis, slet ikke set nogle døde svaner - endnu. Jeg må fluks ned og fodre i morgen.

    Tak for hush hush mm info!

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  2. Hi Sandra,
    One will probably have nothing to do with the other but thousands of birds falling dead out of the sky in January, first in the US and than in Sweden....

    It would seem to me that if it was lack of food, not only the swans would have died.

    Let's hope that someone will find the cause.

    Frans

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  3. Orv, det er da helt fantastisk hvis noget jeg lige har skrevet betyder at der er en svane der får noget at spise. Hurra :D

    (du skal nok ikke kigge under broen hvis du ikke har lyst til at se døde svaner..)

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  4. Hi Frans, I was just about to write you. The Swedish mystery was solved, it turned out that a large flock of birds hit a truck and the chock may have caused them to fall down a little after impact. If we are talking about the same incident, that is.

    I also find is suspicious that only swans die, and then only some. My fear is that it is a twisted person feeding them poison, or that we may even never find out. Fingers crossed for the swans. :-)

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  5. I have no idea if we are talking about the same incident, I just remembered hearing about it on the news.

    It seems to happen all around the world every few years.

    If it is indeed someone who is poisoning them, than that's one sick person !

    Frans

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  6. Maybe (hopefully) it is just me in a case of wobbly faith in humanity. I will post the findings as soon as I know more.

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  7. Har også indlæg om svanedød på min blog i dag (og har været så taktløs at skrive det sammen med tanker om Black Swan-filmen). Jeg synes, trods al den gode hush-hush information, også, at det er mystisk, at så mange svaner dør lige på en gang. Særligt sammenholdt med andre slags fugledød, for eksempel solsortene fra Arkansas, der bare vupti faldt ned fra himmelen. Har både hørt, at det er Bibelreference til dommedag og passage i Murakamiroman. Eller måske en giftmorder. Håber ikke, at der er flere dødsmærkede dyr i søerne nu.

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  8. Hej li ma, jeg læste lige dit indlæg, og jeg kan godt se at vi har helt forskellige vinkler på det. Sidste år kom fuglene så fint igennem vinteren at selv damen jeg talte med var overrasket over så flotte de var. Så det er ikke hvidt brød der slår dem ihjel.

    Hvis det viser sig at de er døde af sult ud på grund af mangel på oplysning/en miskommunikation så bliver jeg så edderspændt, altså. Men det er selvfølgelig endnu værre hvis der er en psykopat der forgifter dem. Uanset årsagen, så er det ubærligt trist. Og med det tempo de lægger sig i lige nu, tror jeg ikke at det er ovre endnu, desværre.

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  9. En død svane er noget af det sørgeligste, jeg har set. Blev virkelig bevæget af det her indlæg, Sandra.

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  10. Det her er bare så fucking tragisk, jeg ved slet ikke hvad jeg skal stille op.
    Ud over selvfølgelig at tage ned og fodre dem first thing når jeg kommer på arbejde i morgen.
    Der er fanme meget misinformation om de søer, og jeg er også selv hoppet med på den vage officielle "man må hellere lade være med at fodre dem for meget" vogn.
    Det eneste det er lykkes dem at formidle klart, er at man ikke skal smide maden i vandet. men det er ligesom ikke rigtig nok.

    Tak for indlægget (som jeg straks vil linke til) og det grundige detektiv arbejde. Du er en god ven for svanerne!

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  11. Flora Amalie, det er en skandale! Jeg håber at der vil opstå et pres på kommunen for at oplyse os ordentligt. Havde også en idé på et tidspunkt til at butikkerne nær søerne kunne forhandle små poser af det vildt foder de har brug for (den holder endnu). Vi vil dem det jo kun godt!

    Jeg har det vildt dårligt over at opdage at fuglene har sultet mens jeg har cyklet lige forbi dem hele vinteren, puha. Tak for fin kommentar og link.

    hej Anonyme, det er meget trist at se på en død svane, men ubegribeligt meget værre at se på hele grupper af dem. Vi må ikke miste flere nu.

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  12. That is just about the saddest thing I've ever seen. They are such beautiful birds.

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  13. Hej igen. Åh, den misinformation! Jeg ved ingenting om fuglemaver, men skrev det om det hvide brød, fordi manden i Dyreambulancen sagde til mig, at det var derfor, de døde. Men det kan jo ikke passe, som du skriver, ikke når de er så mange, som dør. Jeg retter lige i det & linker til din efterforskning.

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  14. Hej li ma, jeg ved det, og jeg har på fornemmelsen at det er misinformation der slår dem ihjel, på den ene eller den anden måde. Ledte efter et billede på nettet af hvordan en udmarvet svane ser ud, og fandt den her rednings aktion på BBC News.

    Hvis deres svaner er død-sultne, så prøv at sammenligne med vores.. se de benede halse. De har jo ingen energi tilbage, de stakkels dyr. Jo måske er de blevet syge, men hvad skal de kæmpe imod med hvis de ikke får noget at spise? Arh, jeg er så gal altså. Hvor er Dyrenes Beskyttelse, og hvorfor tager andre lande sultne svaner så meget mere alvorligt?

    Hi Mary, it is truly heart breaking, our beautiful swans.. I found this piece on starving swans on BBC News and I am more and more convinced that they could be dying from plain starvation. Hopefully we will know soon, but I am done not feeding them.

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  15. Hi Sandra, there was an incident in the US with thousands of birds falling down dead from the sky above one town, I think in the midwest but I don't quite remember. This freaked out a lot of people. Although I have generally little sympathy for the swans I fed them in Zürich whole wheat bread. then there were signs telling us they were allergic to gluten. It seemed very fancy for a swan ;) (kidding).
    The view of dead swan is very sad though, any dead animal I suppose... (Now I'm thinking about Bambi, snif...)

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  16. Alle Sandras læsere: TIL SØEN MED BRØD! NU!

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  17. Hi Carole, there are a lot of bird stories going around at the moment, but the more I look into this case, the more I am convinced they are simply starving to death. Looking at the shape of the rescued swans from the BBC News, I think it is pretty obvious that our swans are even worse off.

    Our animal control people here have made the decision to make the inner city swans die, treating them like wild animals, without taking into the account the impact living in the city may have had on their behavior. And it is clear that if we don't start feeding them, they are all going to starve to death, as they don't even have the strength to seek elsewhere anymore. So sad.

    Mofling, hørt! Løb. (har været forbi med 7 pakker rugbrød idag)

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  18. So sad to see :(
    It is incredible that the animal control people treat them as wild birds, when they are obviously city birds. The birds in the city "expect" to be fed, so if some deskjob moron decides that it's illegal or even harmful to give them some bread, those birds will die from starvation. I think this could very well be the case here, and not some psycho poisoning them. Some 'experts' say that the birds (not only swans) can find their own food, so "don't feed them". But swans are big birds demanding more food than for instance ducks, and food is hard to come by in the city, especially in winter time. After all, if the swans DID have enough to eat, I don't think they would eat the bread given by humans. They would be full and complacent.
    I have a day off friday, so think I'll drop by the lakes with some rye bread for the swans!

    /Drumstick

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  19. Drumstick, well said! I agree with every single thing, and I am happy to hear that you are bringing food to the swans, I am just on my way to buy some more bread for them. They need a lot, but I hope people are beginning to understand how serious the situation is now.

    The animal control center have told me that they have a huge supply of bird seed for winter emergency feeding, but the lake-birds aren't getting any, and this is why I have stopped supporting them. Instead I'll spend it where I know they will go where they are needed the most. Dammit!

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  20. Starvation is a horrible thing, for the humans and for the animals. In a society where obesity is a problem where food goes to waste, we should think about more clever ways to use our resources, less processing, more for everybody in a global way anyone???

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  21. Yes, and that is a basis for a separate post really. It also goes for the housing situation. We have people with no places to live, and big empty office buildings in the centre of the city. And people who have 7 bedroom apartments and extra people just to clean them up, while we have small families living in one bedroom apartments. It does not make any sense.

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