A ANIMAL-LOVING group has launched a scheme to ensure that the city’s swans don’t go hungry this winter and are fed the correct type of food.
The move comes after a national warning from conservationists about an increasing number of malnourished swans due to decreasing sources of natural food and people feeding the birds the wrong items.
Animal Star Awards director, Mary Burgess, said: ‘There has been a reduction in swan numbers. Many people have traditionally fed the birds bread. The problem with bread is it fills their stomachs and makes them feel bloated. There is little nutritional value but the birds don’t then eat the food they need as they feel full.’
The initiative was launched at Canoe Lake in Southsea with the support of local cafe the Canoe Lake Tea Room. Mary is hoping to help support the local swan population by both educating people and providing suitable bird food.
Children from Canoe Lake Nursery were invited to help feed the lake’s swans and launch the initiative.
Amos Smith, four, said: ‘I enjoyed feeding the swans. It is good to help them.’
Summer Said, three, added: ‘Bread makes the swans poorly. I fed the swans bird food.’
The food was provided by the pet food manufacturer Brambles Paws.
‘I got in touch with them and explained I was hoping to launch this campaign and they sent me a large bag for free. The pellets contain wheat, fish meal, soya and rice – all nutritionally good for the birds,’ explained Mary.
The cafe will continue to support the initiative by purchasing further supplies of the pellets to sell to customers who wish to feed the birds on the lake.
Cafe manager, Katherine Eley, said: ‘In April we had two swans arrive on the lake with their cygnets. We helped to look after them and they became a big attraction for people. We would tell customers not to, but a lot of people would feed them bread. Hopefully providing people with the pellets will ensure the swans are fed the correct food. It is important to protect them.’
The local nursery has been provided with a supply of pellets and they have pledged to continue feeding the swans on a weekly basis.
‘It is really important to look after the swans and also to get the children on board and educate them. That is why I am really pleased to have the support of the local nursery,’ explained Mary.
Joining the children in feeding the swans was the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Lee Mason and his deputy, David Fuller.
Cllr Mason said: ‘Locals enjoy seeing the swans in their natural environment. A lot of natural habitat has been destroyed and so it is important we provide a helping hand.’
‘Mary is passionate about the conservation of animals and it is great we were able to come down and support this event,’ added Cllr Fuller.