New feathers transform clipped bird into a beautiful swan
A BLACK swan that had its flight feathers cut off has recently been released after specialised care from WIRES Northern Rivers' Casino carer Melanie Barsony.
The underweight swan had to be rescued because it kept approaching people for food.
"It was not afraid of humans like it should have been, most likely due to being incorrectly hand-raised," Ms Barsony said.
"The swan's biggest problem was that someone had done the unthinkable and cut off all of its flight feathers on both wings - a total of 20 feathers.
"Without being able to fly, this beautiful bird would have fallen victim to a dog or fox attack."
She said it would have taken up to a year for the swan to regrow its feathers.
Ms Barsony took care of the bird for two weeks so it could regain its strength.
The decision was then made to send the black swan to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, which has an enclosure designed for swans.
After two months another swan was brought to the hospital, but it did not survive.
"All was not lost, as this swan's feathers were donated for a procedure called imping, where donor feathers are attached to the cut feathers of a bird, allowing it to fly until it goes through its usual moult," Ms Barsony said.
"This is a delicate and precise process using waterproof glue and dowel for inserting the donor feather into the existing feather.
"The imping procedure was done under anaesthetic and took two and a half hours, after which the swan had a beautiful new set of flight feathers."
The swan was released on a NSW property.