Time for a checkup: Lakeland rounds up Lake Morton swans for annual veterinary visit

For the 42nd year, the annual swan roundup started Tuesday morning on Lake Morton with local veterinarians hitting the water to check on all those beloved birds.

The roundup attracted a crowd of curious onlookers and swan lovers. City workers in boats armed with nets sped across the water after very quick moving swans doubled back and darted away to avoid capture.

The original pair of Lakeland's swans were donated by Queen Elizabeth II back in 1957. Ever since the city has committed to annual checkups to make sure each generation is thriving.

READ: Queen Elizabeth II gifted Lakeland with pair of swans in 1957

"It is a rite of passage to come down and feed the swans," explained Kevin Cook, a city spokesman. "Families do it, young and old."

The day after the birds are captured, a veterinarian will vaccinate them against disease, and check them over for any possible health problems.

"A lot of them will get eye injuries. Feet injuries are common. They get a hole in the webbing. They can actually get sores on the bottom of their feet," said Dr. Price Dixon, from Our Pet’s Animal Hospital, which takes care of the birds medically.

The birds will be weighed, with hopes that they're not getting too chunky. Dixon said lately most of the birds are becoming more fit, in part because visitors to Lake Morton are feeding less bread.

City officials will also do a head count on Tuesday. Lake Morton can only comfortably support about fifty swans.

If keepers think the lake is overpopulated, the city may decide to hold another swan auction, like it has in years past.