Are Swans Aggressive Or Dangerous?


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It is almost common to find pictures, rumours and short clips of swans attacking a human or maybe an animal. This leads some people to wonder if swans are wild birds and if they are aggressive or dangerous to people.

A lot of people are interested in knowing this because they love going to swan Lake to watch them and honestly they want to be sure they are safe and won’t be turned upon by the swans.

In this post, we will give answers on whether swans are aggressive or dangerous and explain to you what can be done in order not to eventually find this out yourself on your next visit to see the swans.


Are Swans Aggressive/Dangerous To Humans?

Just like most animals that try to protect themselves or young ones when there is a threat, swans can do the same. With their size and weight, Swans can quite be aggressive to humans when there is a need.

They can get dangerous but not as dangerous as to cause very, very severe harm or possible elimination of humans.

Their aggression doesn’t occur for no reason as most times it is mostly for the sake of protecting themselves or their surroundings. You will hardly just be walking down the road and have a swan jump out at you.

Do Swans Attack Humans?

It is one thing to be aggressive and another thing to actually take it one step forward and attack. Like most birds or even all animals generally, swans can choose to fight off perceived threats only when the need arises.
But just as earlier stated, their attacks can hardly cause very serious injuries or even elimination.
Only in very rare instances will you find a swan causing a serious injury, and that would probably be on a little child, not a full-grown man.
It is very important to point out that in almost all the cases where a swan did actually attack, it is usually because the person has come too close to their nests or mate and they feel that such a person is trying to take away or harm their eggs/mate.
For this reason, they hiss first to scare you off. This is usually the main reason why swans hiss – to scare people off their nests. If this doesn’t scare the person away, they resort to attacking mildly. Again, such attack hardly leads to serious injuries or elimination. They just want you to go away from their young ones or mate.

Can Swans End Someone?

With their wingspans of up to 2.4 metres and their weight of up to 15kg, swans happen to be powerful birds. The wings of the swan are very powerful too.
But contrary to what some people think, the swan’s wings or neck is not strong enough to break an adult’s arms or legs, or even eliminate them.
The highest damage a swan can cause is just a little injury whenever it strikes a grown man. As for children, it can cause a little more pain and maybe a little break if the swan hits very hard on soft, sensitive spots.

What can you do when a swan looks aggressive at you or try to attack you?

Swans can be aggressive when trying to defend their nests or mates as they are highly protective of their mates and young ones. They start off with a loud hiss to scare you off if they perceive you to be a threat to their cygnet or mate.
If you don’t cooperate and leave their young ones or mates, they go for the attack. Here are some things to do if you notice a swan is turning aggressive or trying to attack?
  • Once you start hearing a swan hiss at you or anyone around, slowly leave the vicinity so that you don’t be a victim of a swan attack. A swan will most likely not attack when it doesn’t see a threat anymore.
  • If you are probably near the nest or mate, the best way to get the swan to leave you is to get out of that area. Calmly walk backwards until you are well out of its territory.
  • Let’s say you were not fast enough to leave the area and a swan succeeds in launching itself at you, don’t fight back as you will only anger it the more. Don’t squeeze the neck or wings either as you will cause it to get more aggressive. Stay calm and try to hold the swan by its wings to get it off you. Once you are able to hold the wings, you can easily pull it off you and calmly walk backwards out of the area. Once you are in the clear. place it back down gently and walk away. The swan would hardly go after you and even by then you have other people around to help you.
  • Make sure you are not found alone in a place where there are a lot of swans. Swans can be protective of one another and if they see that there is a threat to one swan, they can all come to its rescue. Trust me, you don’t want to be in the middle of a swan battle.


Why Do Swans Get Aggressive And Pose As Dangerous?

The swan’s aggressions may translate into severe or subtle harm depending on the attack and defence equipment of the aggressors.

We have established that the swans are actually aggressive but only when there is the need. So, if you are wondering what prompts them to get aggressive and become dangerous in a blink, here are some reasons:

1. Protection Of Young Ones:

Swans are reputed to be very protective of their young ones at all times. When they sense any encroachment on their young ones, they can be very nasty indeed especially in the case of children who are likely to suffer significant injuries in the process.

The severity of swan attacks here is made light since their bones are not very strong and their beaks and wings, with which they assault offenders, can hardly accomplish much.

Be that as it may, however, serious care should be taken to avoid these attacks. These attacks, when carried out en masse, can be very devastating and harmful, but against popular belief, broken bones are hardly likely.

2. Protection Of The Nests:

Swans, especially when they are in a large number(called a wedge), can be quite aggressive when it comes to protecting. They are protective of their nests and can show fury when someone tries to go too near their nests.

This fury towards any perceived real or imagined threats from man or animals alike is usually preceded by a series of elaborate noises (hissing) and threatening motions called ‘bluffing’ which may not actually lead to any attack at first.

All this is aimed at discouraging any would-be assailant. You may also want to watch their beaks and wings to forestall any surprises.

3. Protection Of Their Mates:

The same way swans can get aggressive when protecting their young ones or nests, that is the same way they will get aggressive for their mates.

Swans do not really do well when left alone and having their mates around can go a long way. Some may not survive at the passing on or separation of a mate and so they can get aggressive when they feel someone is trying to attack their mate.

4. For Food:

Well, it is not new to learn that ‘a hungry man is an angry man’. The same thing goes for the swans. When swans feel so hungry as a result of having almost nothing around to feed on for one reason or the other, it doesn’t go well.

The little they can find by scavenging can be fought over aggressively to eat it.

This mostly happens when they are very hungry and at the point of starving. Also, if humans bring food around to their lake and try to make them play with the food when hungry, they can get aggressive to get the food. But no, they won’t try any major attack.

5. Aggression On Other Water Birds:

Scarcity of food and territorial competition may elicit swan attacks on other water birds which in the extreme can cause their displacement from their habitats.

Quite unsurprisingly, they have a domineering size that counts in their favour in the event of an all-out confrontation with other water birds.


Can You Befriend A Swan?

The truth is, swans aren’t always aggressive as they only have the best interest of their species at heart. If you don’t threaten them or they don’t see you as a threat, you are good.

So, yes, you can befriend a swan as long as you are not going near their nests or trying to harm them or their mates.

Swans seem to like people and don’t mind the extra attention they get. But they can change only when they think you have become a threat.

This brings us to the question, how can you befriend a swan? Simple, feed them! It’s not only a man’s heart that can be reached through the stomach. Swans are hungry and you have to feed them enough to befriend them over a period of time.

Swans can recognise people that are friendly to them, take the grandma from UK for example. The swans are always happy to see her because she visits them all the time bearing food.

And if you are wondering if you can feed swans or what to feed them, here is a full post that answers the question – Can You Feed A Swan When You See Them?.



Now that we know that swans can be quite as aggressive and dangerous as any water bird; and also understand in what circumstances they can be that way, we should do what is necessary to not be on the receiving end.

To protect ourselves and unsuspecting children, we can try to take some proactive measures when we know we have swans in the area.

We can either erect barriers around swan habitats to protect ourselves and also prevent people from going too close things that can annoy the swans.

Or where erecting barriers is not possible, we can just try to avoid going close to them entirely. Swans can be watched from a distance without fear. Any caution taken may ultimately be adjudged worthy.

What do you think?

5 thoughts on “Are Swans Aggressive Or Dangerous?”

  1. These birds are just too cute to be seen that way. I have never really experienced anything bad with them and I think I’ll leave the memory of them that way.

  2. I have a pair of swans living in my backyard pond. They have been here for two years and laid eggs last May. She currently has laid more eggs and are due this May. Everyone loves and feeds them. They come to many of us each day. We love them around us and apparently they don’t feel threatened at all. We protect them and would never harm them. I hope they never leave.


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