Ask the Swan Specialist

Why Swans Rest Leg on Back
By:The Regal Swan
Date: 12 July 2007
In Response To: Swans Resting Leg on Back (alex moran)

Hi Alex:

Great question. There are two possible normal reasons that swans place one of their legs on their back. The first reason would be for resting. The second reason would be possible heat dissipation. Although the swans do pant, they don't sweat. Their feet have many blood vessels and some researchers believe that the carrying of the foot out of the water and in the breeze may be a way to cool the swan. A swan's normal body temperature is 106 degrees F and in hot, humid weather, the birds may need another way of cooling down than just staying in the water.

We are constantly asked about this issue when people see the leg being held out of the water. Very rarely is the leg position a result of an injury, but it is possible. If a swan has been bitten by a turtle, alligator or sustained other traumatic injuries to a particular limb, the foot may be held out of the water. It is for this reason, that the swan should be checked for an injury just in case one has been sustained. But again, usually this leg position is normal. The Regal Swan.

Messages In This Thread

Swans Resting Leg on Back -- alex moran -- 12 July 2007
Why Swans Rest Leg on Back -- The Regal Swan -- 12 July 2007