The injured swan came in town just about the same time as Joyce Guyton, a part- time resident of the New Market area who generally spends her winters in Florida.
“He arrived when we arrived, but I don’t think he can leave when we leave,” said Guyton, who is staying through the holiday season.
The bird appears to have a broken bone in its wing. It has been stuck near a community pond for the last three weeks, but can’t be captured and taken in for treatment because it is just mobile enough to get away.
The pond is adjacent to Guyton’s backyard in The Greens, a development near New Market, and the swan has captured her attention over the last few weeks.
“He’s quite a stately figure when he’s traversing the pond,” Guyton said.
But when the swan raises its wings, it thrashes about and seems in pain, she said.
“He’s constantly tugging at his wing and trying to flap it,” she said.
Guyton is worried that the pond will soon freeze over and cause the migratory bird’s death.
“He has no protection, and if it freezes, he will be in great peril,” she said.
Frederick County Animal Control officers have been to the pond several times in recent weeks, but the swan has always managed to get away, according to Harold Domer, the division’s director.
“The bird’s wing does appear to be injured, but it does not prohibit it from partially flying or moving to get to the water where it can escape and not be captured,” Domer said. “The swan appears to be functioning and eating and surviving, but it does have the injured wing.”
There are no wildlife rehabilitators in Frederick County who are licensed to care for migratory birds.
Perrie Lee Prouty, who lives in Rockville and volunteers to help injured waterfowl throughout the state, said it is difficult to capture injured birds.
“We are predators to them,” Prouty explained. “Oddly, you might have to use hunting techniques to kind of stalk it like a predator.”
She has been rehabilitating birds for the last 12 years, she said.
Swans are much harder to capture because they cannot be baited like geese, which will come after tossed bread.
Prouty said she will come to the pond if the neighbors request help, but bone injuries in birds can be deadly. Even if a bone fracture heals, the surrounding bone is likely to break as soon as the bird tries to fly again. And healed bones grow back thicker and jagged, throwing off the symmetry birds need to fly straight, she said.
Guyton said she hopes some luck will come to her new backyard companion.
“Maybe there is nothing that can be done. Maybe it is part of nature,” she said. “But sometimes, you just get the gut feeling that you should give someone a second chance.”