How to be a Better Feeder

Feed only when swans are hungry

Don’t leave food if they don’t come to eat it. It could go off, or attract rats in public places.

Always place food in the water

This means they take in water with food, just as they would naturally. They are also closer to safety if loose dogs should approach while they are busy eating.

Do not handfeed swans

Handfeeding encourages them to snap at hands or follow people. This can be intimidating for some people, and risky for the swans.

If you find swans following you, throw the food over them into the water – then they’ll go that way!

Always feed fresh food

Mouldy food can make swans ill and can kill them.

Take care not to leave food lying around where it could go off if not eaten by the swans. Never throw food onto or near swan nests, as this can attract rats that prey upon eggs and cygnets.

Avoid feeding the gulls

Be mindful of what you do. Wait until you have a cluster of swans to feed. Keep the food fairly close to the edge of the river so it is less easy for the gulls to swoop. Drop the food directly in front of swans that are looking up ready to eat. This way they will reach the food before the gulls.


A cygnet with a drinks can stuck around its bill
Yorkshire Swan Rescue Hospital