Perfect time for swan watching before waterfowl leave Moscow parks for winter

September 21
Parks and pedestrian areas

There are just a couple of weeks left if people in Moscow are interested in going to see black and white swans in local parks. Next month, these fragile sensitive birds inhabiting ponds around the city will be transferred to warm shelters to overwinter. The swans can be spotted in seven parks sponsored by the Moscow Department of Culture.

“As the temperature first creeps below zero, thin layers of ice quickly blanket the ponds and rivers in the city parks. Although generally, swans can withstand cold temperatures, it is still quite challenging for them. Therefore, any water birds are usually transferred to warmer places for the winter months. Some shelters even have baths filled with water. Our experts created comfortable conditions for the birds’ wintering. The waterfowl will stay in bird-friendly shelters and enjoy a balanced diet while being constantly monitored by the keepers,” commented the press service of Mosgorpark, the service responsible for Moscow parks and recreation. 

Two black and three white swans live in Gorky Park. The black swans, Vanya and Natasha, are especially sensitive to the nippy temperatures and will therefore move to a warm shelter before the end of September when nights become chilly. The family of white swans will move to the shelter in October. Papa, Mama and Mona are not really fond of strangers; however, they have been long-time friends with Guslya the goose. The birds are very close and spend winters together.

The wintering shelter in Gorky Park is located at the Golitsynsky Pond. Visitors can watch the swans and the goose through panoramic windows even during the cold season. The spacious shelter is equipped with water-filled baths; the ventilation and heating system maintains a pleasant temperature inside while automatic lighting switches off after sunset. The birds feed on crushed vegetables, protein-rich foods, mixed fodder and grits. As a supplement, the fodder is enriched with shelly limestone that contains calcium salt, and sand to boost the digestion of our overwinterers.

A couple of white swans, Romeo and Juliet, reside in Lianozovsky Park. From the early autumn, keepers start hand-feeding the birds with treats so that they get accustomed to close contact with humans. As a result, they obey and follow the keepers much more easily when it is time to bid farewell to the pond. The swans will move to their winter abode in early November.

The white swans from Mitino Landscape Park will be transferred to a shelter at about the same time. Six birds – Konstantin and Yelena, Ruslan and Lyudmila, and Pyotr and Fevroniya – inhabit the Penyaginsky Pond. The swans will spend winter in a shelter built specifically for this purpose. The door will remain unlocked so that the birds can go outside and walk around if they feel like it. A similar shelter is available to the feathered residents of the public garden in Olonetsky Proyezd near the Yauza River. These swans have exactly the same names as one of the couples from Mitino (Pyotr and Fevroniya). Their diet will include oats, wheat and mixed fodder.

Dusya and Avgustina will be seen at the Zolotoi Pond in Sokolniki Park until the first minus temperatures. Once it is too chilly for them, the birds will be transferred to a heated shelter.

There are plenty of waterfowl in the Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve such as swans, Indian Runners and geese. In mid-October, they will move from the Upper Tsaritsyno Pond to an animal farm in Moscow. The birds that can be seen on the Zhuzha River in the Kolomenskoye Museum-Reserve will spend their winter on the grounds of the peasant household exhibition in the park.

Moscow parks take care of their other inhabitants as well. For example, there is a squirrel cabin in Perovsky Park. Keepers bring hay for the five animals living in the cage so that they can protect their home from the cold. Unless there’s a blizzard or it’s snowing, the squirrels get out of their private boxes in almost any weather. During the winter months, visitors can watch them being fed. The keepers offer the cabin residents sunflower seeds and a mix of hazelnuts, walnuts and pine nuts adding some dried mushrooms and fruit. People are advised against feeding the squirrels to avoid misbalancing their diet which already contains everything they need to stay healthy.

Those who wish to help squirrels survive through the winter should feed these animals in other parks and gardens where squirrels are not kept in shelters. It is important to choose a treat based on zoologists’ recommendations otherwise the animals may get sick or even not survive the hard winter months.


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