ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Black_swan_by_birds_as_poetry-001-davidjenkins Black Swan landing by D. Jenkins
  2. Black_swan_and_chicks_by_marj_k Black swan and cygnets (chicks) by Marj K.
  3. Black_swans_on_nest_by_marj_k-1 Black swan on nest by Marj K.
  4. _cw_user__black_swan_cygnus_atratus_allya_syahrudi Photo taken by ClimateWatcher Allya Syahrudi

Black Swan

Cygnus atratus

Appearance

  • Colour: Adults have a black body and neck with white wing tips, black legs and a red bill with white bar near tip. Male carries head higher than female in mated pair and has darker bill and iris. Juveniles are lighter in colour and cygnets have grey-brown plumage. 
  • Size: body length 110 - 140 cm; wingspan 160 - 200 cm 
 

Behaviour

  • Call: Musical fluting, trumpeting heard during nocturnal flight. Aggressive hissing. 
  • Diet: Mainly algae and weeds, plunging neck up to 1m deep. Occasional grazing on land.
  • Breeding: Monogamous pairing for life. Nesting on large mounds which are re-used each year. One brood per season with 4-7 greenish white eggs. 
 

What to Observe

  • Courting/mating (Monogamous mating pairs, possibility of homosexual pairs with a female surrogate in a threesome)
  • Calling
  • Feeding
  • Chicks
  • Bird on eggs
  • Bird on nest
  • Nest building

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

We expect birds to alter their timing of breeding as a result of climate change warming the Earth and associated changes in the hydrological system.

When To Look

  • Year round
  • February - September (breeding)

Where To Look

  • Throughout Australia in large expanses of fresh and brackish waters with abundant aquatic vegetation
  • Also found in exposed mudflats, flooded pasture and crop lands, ornamental lakes, permanent wetlands.
  • Requires 40m clearance to take off.
  • Outside breeding season will travel large distances, flying mostly by night.
 

References

Simpson K, Day N & Trusler P 2004. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Viking, Camberwell, Victoria.

Pringle JD 1985. The Waterbirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson and the National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.

Braithwaite LW 1981. "Ecological studies of the Black Swan III – Behaviour and social organization". Australian Wildlife Research 8: 134–146. doi:10.1071/WR9810135

 

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  1. What Else?

    In poor lighting and at distance, the Black Swan may be confused with a Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata in flight. However, the Black Swan has a much longer neck and slower wing beat. On the ground, the Magpie Goose is white on the rump, belly, mantle and upper wings where the Black Swan would be black.

  1. Did You Know?

    The Black Swan is the only entirely black-coloured swan in the world.