Black Swan Marj K/ClimateWatch user

Black Swan

Cygnus atratus

Did You Know?

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

FactBox Image

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.

Species: WhatToObserve Image

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

Species: WhenAndWhere Image

When and Where

When To Look

Keep an eye out year round. Breeds April - October in the south, March - May in Northeast Queensland but can breed any month after suitable rain.

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
Species: WhatElse Image

Similar Species

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.