Nov. 21 - In a tradition which dates back to 1818, swans in Hamburg are taken to their winter homes before the Alster River freezes over. Kilmeny Duchardt reports.
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Germany's iconic swans in Hamburg sit nestled in their home - the waters of the Alster River.
But the city's beloved creatures will soon be transported to their winter haven, as part of an annual tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
Since 1818, the birds have been taken to a nearby lake, which is a better environment for them to find food and survive the cold.
A "swan father" like Olaf Niess is designated to look after the flock.
SOUNDBITE: Olaf Niess, swan caretaker, saying (German):
"The water freezes from the outside toward the inside, so the animals would be trapped in the middle of the ice and we would have to free them with ice breakers. We can avoid that here at the winter quarters because we have underwater pumps which keep the entire stretch of water free from ice."
And with the first buds of spring, the birds will return home.