LOCAL MASK ORDER RESCINDED Read More
Black Swan by Cheryl Crowley

Swan, Black

Share:

Description

Black swans are large waterfowl, about 1 m (39 inches) tall and weigh up to 9 kg (about 20 pounds). As the name implies, the feathers are black; they have some white wing feathers that are normally hidden when the bird is at rest. The beak is red. Males are usually a little larger than females and the female’s beak is not as brightly colored. Juveniles are brownish-grey with a paler beak. They have long necks relative to their height.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Anseriformes
Family
Anatidae
Genus
Cygnus
Species
C. atratus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
about 1 m (39 inches)
Weight
up to 9 kg (about 20 pounds)

Social Life
Black swans do not migrate regularly; as long as they have a suitable habitat they stay within a small range. They can be solitary or found in large groups. They make a musical bugle-like call. If disturbed during nesting they will whistle. When courting or strengthening the parent-offspring bond the swans have an elaborate display, approaching each other with wings outspread, dipping their heads then raising their necks at a 45-degree angle with head down, swimming circles around each other. Couples are territorial and the male will initiate this display more often if there are multiple males in the area.

Habitat and Range
Black swans are from Australia. They are found in and near large lakes and lagoons. Outside of breeding season they can also be found in rivers and billabongs (seasonal creeks). Black swans have been introduced to New Zealand where they now flourish.

Diet
Black swans are almost entirely vegetarian; they eat water plants. They dabble on the water surface or upend. When upending the swan tilts its body vertically with its head and neck underwater and its tail in the air. Because swans have long necks they reach underwater plants that are not available to dabbling ducks, which also upend to get food. Cygnets (baby swans) have grey downy feathers. These feathers do not look like it, but they are waterproof. The cygnets often upend more often than the adults!

Lifespan
about 12 years in the wild and up to 40 years under human care.

Predators
Adult swans have no predators. Young swans are susceptible to introduced species such as dogs and foxes as well as large native birds of prey, including kites and falcons.

Reproduction
They reach sexual maturity about 18-36 months.

Black swans are monogamous and typically mate for life. Pairs breed when the water is at its highest level. They nest in colonies. The nest is a large mound of plant material that can either float or rest on the ground. Females lay 5-6 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 36-40 days. Chicks fledge at 150-170 days. Both parents incubate the eggs (the female at night) and care for the young. If an egg accidentally rolls out of the nest, either parent will use its long neck to nudge the egg back in. Occasionally the cygnets will get a ride on a parent’s back, but this is less common behavior for black swans.

Information

Description

Black swans are large waterfowl, about 1 m (39 inches) tall and weigh up to 9 kg (about 20 pounds). As the name implies, the feathers are black; they have some white wing feathers that are normally hidden when the bird is at rest. The beak is red. Males are usually a little larger than females and the female’s beak is not as brightly colored. Juveniles are brownish-grey with a paler beak. They have long necks relative to their height.

Classification

Class
Aves
Order
Anseriformes
Family
Anatidae
Genus
Cygnus
Species
C. atratus
Conservation Status
Least Concern

Key Facts

Height
about 1 m (39 inches)
Weight
up to 9 kg (about 20 pounds)

Social Life
Black swans do not migrate regularly; as long as they have a suitable habitat they stay within a small range. They can be solitary or found in large groups. They make a musical bugle-like call. If disturbed during nesting they will whistle. When courting or strengthening the parent-offspring bond the swans have an elaborate display, approaching each other with wings outspread, dipping their heads then raising their necks at a 45-degree angle with head down, swimming circles around each other. Couples are territorial and the male will initiate this display more often if there are multiple males in the area.

Habitat and Range
Black swans are from Australia. They are found in and near large lakes and lagoons. Outside of breeding season they can also be found in rivers and billabongs (seasonal creeks). Black swans have been introduced to New Zealand where they now flourish.

Diet
Black swans are almost entirely vegetarian; they eat water plants. They dabble on the water surface or upend. When upending the swan tilts its body vertically with its head and neck underwater and its tail in the air. Because swans have long necks they reach underwater plants that are not available to dabbling ducks, which also upend to get food. Cygnets (baby swans) have grey downy feathers. These feathers do not look like it, but they are waterproof. The cygnets often upend more often than the adults!

Lifespan
about 12 years in the wild and up to 40 years under human care.

Predators
Adult swans have no predators. Young swans are susceptible to introduced species such as dogs and foxes as well as large native birds of prey, including kites and falcons.

Reproduction
They reach sexual maturity about 18-36 months.

Black swans are monogamous and typically mate for life. Pairs breed when the water is at its highest level. They nest in colonies. The nest is a large mound of plant material that can either float or rest on the ground. Females lay 5-6 eggs. The eggs are incubated for 36-40 days. Chicks fledge at 150-170 days. Both parents incubate the eggs (the female at night) and care for the young. If an egg accidentally rolls out of the nest, either parent will use its long neck to nudge the egg back in. Occasionally the cygnets will get a ride on a parent’s back, but this is less common behavior for black swans.