Wayward swan back home in Milford: Watch video

A swan is back home in the Housatonic River beyond the Caswell Cove condominiums in Milford following an ordeal with some local sewage.

Peter Reid brought the swan to Milford Wednesday from the Wildlife in Crisis nature center in Weston, and about a half dozen Caswell Cove residents turned out to see the swan that they consider part of the condominium family.

The swan was treated for respiratory issues at the Wildlife in Crisis nature center after swallowing sewage from an aeration tank at Milford’s wastewater treatment facility, which is next to the condominium complex.

Milford’s wastewater division, firefighters and animal control teamed up to rescue the swan from the aeration tank Oct. 6, after the swan was found floating in one of the aeration tanks at the Housatonic treatment plant, wastewater officials said.


An aeration tank is a tank in which air is added to wastewater to allow “aerobic bio-degradation” to remove pollutants from the water.

Several wastewater employees and animal control officers tried to get the swan out of the tank area Oct. 5 but had no luck. The next day the swan was still in the tank and very dirty and weak, officials said.

“It was trying to clean itself off but was not able to,” they said in a letter thanking the fire department and animal control for ultimately rescuing the swan. “At this point it was very close to the grinder which is very dangerous. It was very tired, so it was decided that the fire department should be called to see if they could help.”  

Firefighters were able to capture the swan in a net and bring it to safety. They hosed off the swan as best they could. Animal Control officers returned, wrapped the swan in a blanket to keep it warm and brought it to Wildlife in Crisis in Weston, a non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife preservation and land conservation.

Peter Reid, assistant director of Wildlife in Crisis in Western Connecticut, said this week that the swan was given two weeks of antibiotics and seems fit and healthy.

The swan seemed perfectly at home when Reid gently placed it in the river, behind the Caswell Cove condominiums.

Condominium residents have been keeping track of and feeding the group of swans that live outside the condominiums, which overlook the Housatonic River.

“We’ve watched them grow and we all do a headcount whenever we see them,” Bateman said. “So as soon as one was missing, word spread like wildfire. We feel like a bunch of swan parents.”

Trudy Craley, another Caswell Cove resident, said last year the two adult swans came to the marina at Caswell Cove almost every day together. When they started to come separately, the residents who watched them thought they might have a nest.

In May, the residents watched as the two adult swans swam into the harbor, with five young swans trailing.

The swans come when her husband whistles to them, Craley said, and Bateman said the swans know just which condominium to swim to when they’re hungry.

After Reid left the swan in the river Wednesday, one resident said, “That was a nice moment.”

The swan watchers are hoping the swan will reunite with its family, and plan to keep a lookout.

“Our juvie [juvenile swan] was released this morning around 11 a.m.,” Bateman told the other residents in an email later. “It was uneventful and he is eating and swimming as he should be.

“The juvie is expected to blend back into his family, but one never knows. Let's continue to keep count.”

Swans are non-native to Connecticut, and most of the swans here probably originated in Great Britain. Reid said they were brought to the United States as “decorative” birds.

Reid had been a little hesitant about bringing the swan back to the Caswell Cove area because of the nearby sewage treatment plant.

But once he set the swan free, he said he likes the habitat and thinks the swan will do well.

He couldn’t say if the swan is male or female.

“It’s a male,” Bateman said with a laugh. “It didn’t ask for directions when it got lost.”