The royal swans have been released this year. They were kept in their “overwintering” facility all summer last year because of unfounded staff fears over avian flu. There was local and national outcry over their captivity last year because the facility–which some dubbed swantanamo bay–was not set up for year-long inhabitation.
So far the two pairs living near us seem to be fairing well despite their long captivity. The photo above is of a pair of black swans (Cygnus atratus) who have set up home in the reeds near the Bank Street bridge of the Rideau River. There is a pair of white Mute swans (Cygnus olor), who have taken up residence on the other side of the bridge, across from the Billings Bridge Mall.
Queen Elizabeth II gave six pairs of mute swans to the City of Ottawa in 1967 in honour of Canada’s 100th birthday. The Mute swans you see in the river today are descendants of these original six pairs. The first pair of Australian black swans were obtained from the Montreal Zoo in 1974 in a trade. For more info see the FAQ’s on the City’s website.
If you see a sick or injured swan please contact the City immediately through their emergency 3-1-1 number.