Despite repeated attempts by Boston Animal Rescue League workers Bill Tanguay and Mark Vogel to capture Cape Ann’s beloved swan, Mr. Swan escaped.

The day began a little after 6:00am when the Friends of Mr. Swan convened at Henry’s Pond to strategize on how to manage and understand the mysterious notice posted at the pond, which read, “Please don’t feed swan. He is being rescued on Tuesday.” The Friends of Mr. Swan are a group of people who feed and monitor Mr. Swan on a daily basis throughout the year and they include Skip Hadden, Lois, Serena, Skip and Joel Monroe, Lyn Fonzo, Elaine Somers, and myself. The news had spread quickly amongst the group about the scheduled rescue. Mr. Swan’s left foot appears to be sprained or in some way injured at the ankle (possible snapping turtle bite) but we had taken the tactic of allowing the foot to hopefully heal on its own. Wildlife capture can lead to euthanasia and that is truly the last diagnosis any of us would want for Mr. Swan (also known as Buddy, Poppa Swan, Old Blue Eyes, and Papa Swan).

Lois and her Buddy

Mr. Swan is at least 27 years old, has outlived two mates, and fathered many cygnets. With his beautiful blue eyes and pure white cygnet offspring, Mr. Swan is a rare form of Mute Swan (Cygnus immutabilis), thought to originate from the Baltic Sea region. All these many years that he has called Cape Ann home Mr. Swan has brought joy and happiness to countless people, especially to young children. At this point, he is not showing outward signs of physical pain, he is feeding and drinking, and maintaining his feathers (preening). We hope with all our hearts that his foot will heal but believe that if it his time to go, he should be permitted to live out his remaining days in his own neighborhood with his community of friends.

Lyn and her Poppa

The Friends agreed to take turns watching for the ARL workers. Our objective was to speak with them to learn more about the specifics of the capture and how it would impact Mr. Swan’s overall health, what would be the various courses of action based upon veterinary examination, if we could determine the outcome with covering his medical bills, and to insure that Mr. Swan be returned to Cape Ann, if he did have to undergo rehabilitation.

ARL’s Bill and Mark arrived at around noon. We discussed the various options and were assured that as Mr. Swan is a community “pet,” with plenty of friends to look out for him, he would less likely be euthanized.

Coaxing Mr. Swan to the pond’s edge was easy when offered some favorite foods, but getting him to walk onshore was another story.  Out came the kayaks, where Mr. Swan led Bill and Mark on a wild swan chase back and forth from one end of the pond to the other. He skillfully led the workers through the thick reeds of phragmites, where he has a secret nest and many avenues of escape. At one point it appeared as though Mark had captured him with the swan-sized net, but he wriggled out and bolted free. We could see Mr. Swan panting and visibly tiring and at that point he slipped deep, deep into the reeds and was not seen again. We all came to the mutual decision that it was best not to continue as Mr. Swan was clearly super stressed and exhausted.

Nearly captured!

Super stressed and panting

Final slip into the reeds.

Bill, Mark, and the Friends decided that the logical course of action is to continue to monitor Mr. Swan on a daily basis. If his condition worsens we will at that time call the ARL. In the meantime, we are urging everyone to please follow these simple guidelines in helping Mr. Swan on his road to recovery.

  1. A healthy diet while healing is critically important. He should only be fed cracked or whole corn. Additionally, chopped lettuce or grass cuttings can be offered along with the corn. PLEASE NO JUNK FOOD, which includes bread, chips, and every other kind of processed food snack.
  2. Please do not bring your pooch to the shoreline where Mr. Swan is resting. Dogs, especially bird chasing dogs, create a great deal of stress for swans.
  3. If you see Mr. Swan in any kind of distress please contact any one of the Friends of Mr. Swan or email me at


You can’t miss the Red-winged Blackbirds at the pond and they love cracked and whole corn, too.

18 thoughts on “MR. SWAN CAPTURE UPDATE

  1. I hope he can rest tonight and be there to greet his Friends in the morning. You guys are the Angels here. I wish the ARL folk could have simply enjoyed kayaking rather than stressing an old bird. Thanks for the report, Kim. I was wondering.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks to all of you for watching over Mr Swan. I’ve been watching him at his two beautiful ponds for his entire life. It makes me sad that he had such a stressful time today. ARL has a stellar reputation so hopefully they will do the right thing in the long run. . Again- thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve lived here since 1984 and I’ve been walking my dogs around these areas since the early 90’s. I feel like I’ve been aware of Mr Swan for as long as I can remember. My memories are not as clear as Skip Hadden’s, but I do remember knowing his first mate disappeared and other times when his cygnets disappeared from Henry’s pond. I remember everyone in that neighborhood being so sad when those events occurred. And then, of course, when his last mate was killed at Niles a few years back. The poor guy deserves to live his life in peace. Last week, he was near the causeway in the morning and was being closely followed by a line of ducks. He definitely has his posse at both locations!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow great history and what a community for talking care of Mr. Swan. Not sure the bright red shirts helped any but think they ARL are trying to care for the wounded. Snapper is a very likely source or other animals in the that will take a bird lying in wait 4 legged type we have had skunks try to get in our chicken barns out west did up under fence-line mainly going for eggs but will kill smaller chickens too. .

    All attempted captures are stressful and longer it goes on more so adrenalin fight or flight. Some rescue firms. Maybe a net gun (CO2) would work I know they have been used many times before!

    I agree regardless of outcome hopefully he will return to his home to live out his days where he is well loved and cared for notice how close he got to his friends trust takes time!. Dave & Kim

    Quoted from web page below:


    Effective range of The MagNet varies with net size and configuration. You can expect a realistic capture distance of 10 to 25 feet, depending on your net and quarry. You can rely on our experience to supply you with the proper net for your target.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Think this was more for observers (Red shirts) which by the looks of it had a bunch of community members there too! They sure trust the feeders almost close enough to touch! The bottom line is all life is so precious and should be very proud of your valiant efforts here thank you!! ! 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂


  4. FYI Papa Swan was an adult breeding male when I arrived to live on Niles Pond in April 1992.
    He has injured this foot in the past. He fell off our roof after crash landing there in turbulent winds circa 2000. Heartily agree in daily monitoring as he is one determined character. He has a strong chance of survival if left to his own devices and our small efforts to assist from a distance. Skip Hadden 54 Eastern Point Blvd.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much Skip for writing about his age and his previous foot injury. I knew you had been taking care of him for a very long time but didn’t realize just how long. I read that the oldest Mute swan, in Denmark, was ringed in 1970, He lived til the ripe of old of 40, but that is very unusual. We can hope for the best for Mr. Papa Swan ❤

      Liked by 1 person

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