Ludwig the Swan is sick again. This time, his rescuer and caretaker say that he cannot go back to the lake. They're looking for someone to give him a permanent home. 

Ludwig has not been at the lake since October. It took his rescue, the same woman who saved him last time, six tries before finally capturing the big bird and getting his diagnosis at a local vet.

Heidi Callos, his rescuer explains, "It's Trichomoniasis. So, a bird will have Trichomoniasis, come drink out of this lake, and then that puts the [bacteria] in the water and then they breed."

Callos had been visiting him daily, feeding him veggies and healthy snacks since was returned to the lake back in May. She noticed he was sick again when he began refusing to eat.     

Callos says Nancy Laird, the same bird expert who rehabilitated him last time, took him in to her care again at the Wild Animal Infirmary for Nevada in Washoe Valley. Laird tube-fed him back to health and even had to order his special medications all the way from Holland.

Ludwig is doing well in recovery, there. They say he cannot go back to the lake, concerned he will contract the disease, again. 

Now, they're looking for a permanent home for the swan, who is approximately 17 years old. However, they want whoever is interested in doing so, to know it's a commitment, as he could live to be around 30 years old. 

The new home would also have to be well outside of Virginia Lake, so he doesn't instinctively try to fly back. Callos explains, "[It needs to be] a place that has an inlet and outlet, it can't freeze all the way over for predators, obviously, he has to be able to get in and get away. He's a big bird, he can't really fly very far, but he will definitely try to get back here."

He would also need to be fed a high protein diet, daily. Although Callos says the Wild Animal Infirmary would reimburse the potential future owner for the cost of the food. 

Anyone who is seriously interested in welcoming Ludwig into their home can contact Callos through email at:

We reached out to the City of Reno for comment and they sent us a statement from Vice Mayor Naomi Duerr. She says, while Ludwig contracted the disease in the lake, his caretaker says it's because of the large concentration of birds there, not the state of the water, per se.

See Duerr's full statement below: 

"I have been in regular contact with the folks trying to rehome Ludwig.

Ludwig is about 17 years old and has lived in Virginia Lake for many years. My understanding is that he was actually born in Manzanita Lake at UNR where his mom and brother still live. His brother Zeus is somewhat aggressive, so Ludwig was moved to Virginia Lake.

A while back, people who watch out for Ludwig noticed he was loosing weight and brought him to Klaich who brought him to Nancy Laird, the bird whisperer in Washoe Valley. She and Heidi Wipf - Callos fed him and got him well and then replaced him in Virginia Lake.

At some point this summer, Ludwig was once again doing poorly. Klaich and Nancy diagnosed trichomoniasis, a disease of the mouth passed from bird to bird. They flew in meds from Holland and Ludwig got well.

Nancy believed the great concentration of birds in Virginia Lake facilitated the transmission of the disease - not dirty water per se. Note, the water quality at Virginia Lake has improved dramatically over the last four years due to several steps the city has taken - for another post.

Nancy felt that the hand feeding required to help Ludwig recover had also made him dependent on hand feeding. Heidi and Nancy decided Ludwig needed a new home where he could be cared for daily. I reached out to help.

Heidi and I evaluated my 1 acre pond as a potential new home for Ludwig (Virginia Lake is 25 acres). I was willing to take care of Ludwig, but we decided my pond is probably too close to Virginia Lake (1 mile? Swan homing instinct) and the fence around my pond too low at about 4.5 feet.

I turned Heidi on to several other options including Wendy Baroli's pond at the Girl Farm, a pond in the "ranchettes", and "3 Ponds" on Juniper Hills, as well as Swan Lake itself. Heidi also evaluated other leads.

Right now, the perfect pond which meets all requirements has not been located. It needs to be located some distance from Virginia Lake (>1 mile?), a tallish fence (6 feet?), the ability to not freeze over in the winter, a person willing to feed Ludwig every day, a possible swan house (to be built) and the possibility of periodic swan visitation for the public (nice but not essential).

After all of the options are reviewed, I believe Nancy and Heidi will select the best option available.

That's what I know. To my knowledge, the hunt is still on!"

Original Story:

The popular swan who has been missing from Virginia Lake the past several months, has finally returned.  He has now fully recovered from an infection that almost cost him his life. 

The swan, 'Ludwig,' owes his life to Traycey Roque and Heidi Callos, the two women who rescued him back in February. They noticed the swan's head slumped, unable to move. Nancy Laird R.N., who rehabilitated Ludwig says, "He was dying when they picked him up, he was close to dying."

Roque says they were on a walk when they noticed him, "There he was, just on the embankment, he looked lifeless." Callos added, "He wouldn't have made it through the night."

So their casual Friday evening stroll around the lake turned into a rescue mission. They went into the water, grabbed the swan, loaded up into their car and headed to Klaich Animal Hospital. Laird took care of Ludwig at the Wild Animal Infirmary for months, giving him antibiotics, proper nutrition and lots of TLC. 

Three months later, Ludwig is finally back where he belongs.

But, his rescuers do have some concerns about the swan in recovery. They ask lake-goers who stop by to visit Ludwig, to be mindful of what they feed him. Callos stresses, "Bread does not help these guys." Laird adds, "Bread is an empty calorie. It can add weight but not anything else."

While feeding the swan is generally discouraged, lettuce and corn are some healthier alternatives.

For now, Ludwig is just happy to be back. Laird says, "I thought this was the end of the road for this one, but it wasn't."

Original Story: 

If you frequent Virginia Lake, you might have noticed one of its most popular inhabitants missing the past couple of weeks. The swan is a staple attraction for many of the lake's visitors who wonder, if he will be back any time soon. 

The stand-alone swan's name is Ludwig, but he's more affectionately known by one of his admirers, as "Mr. Swan." Les Tribe says he calls him that because of the way he says he "runs the lake." 

Tribe is just one of several lake visitors we spoke with who say they miss seeing Ludwig along their walks along the water. 

The reason? Dr. Andy Musick, a Veterinarian at Klaich Animal Hospital says, "[He was] very, very weak; he was unable to lift his head, unable to stand, really lethargic, had a lot of discharge from his nose." 

Luckily, back on February 2nd, two women walking along the lake noticed the swan suffering and rushed him to the nearby vet. Tribe says, "One of them carried him on her lap, because he could hardly hold his head up."

At Klaich Animal Hospital, Ludwig was examined, given fluids and transferred to the Wild Animal Infirmary with medications. There, he's under the care of Nancy Laird, an RN who nurses wildlife back to health. 

Initially, Laird feared this was the result of something cruel, Tribe explains, "She says, 'I think somebody probably just kicked him - but there's no proof of that.'"

However, Dr. Musick says that the bird probably just had an infection. He acknowledges the bump Laird may have noticed on Ludwig's neck, "There was a little bit of a crook in the neck, but it's stable. Maybe it was an old fracture, but it's unlikely."

Whatever the case may be, Ludwig is almost fully recovered now, standing on his own again. Tribe says he, and others, can't wait for "Mr. Swan's" return. Tribe added, jokingly, "He might outlive me and a lot of the other people that go around there!"

Ludwig was set to be released back to the lake on Sunday, but it was too cold and his caretaker didn't want to risk him catching pneumonia. He'll be back at the lake as soon as temperatures warm back up.