Black-Necked Swan

Black-Necked Swan



COMMON NAME: black-necked swan
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
ORDER: Anseriformes
FAMILY: Anatidae
GENUS SPECIES: Cygnus (swan) melancoryphus (black pigment)


DESCRIPTION: As indicated by its name, this is a large white swan with a black neck. A red knob or carbuncle at the base of the upper mandible is enlarged in males at breeding season. The black-necked swan has short wings, but still is a fast flyer.
SIZE: 102-124 cm (40.8-49.6 in.)
WEIGHT: 4.0-5.4 kg (8.8-11.9 lb.)
DIET: Black-necked swans are herbivores and feed mainly on aquatic plants.
CLUTCH SIZE 4-8 eggs
FLEDGING DURATION Approximately 100 days
SEXUAL MATURITY: Approximately 4 years
LIFE SPAN: Averages 10 years, but able to live up to 30 years
RANGE: Southern portion of South America, including Falkland Islands
HABITAT: Inhabits swamps, freshwater marshes, brackish lagoons and shallow lakes
STATUS: IUCN Not listed
CITES Appendix II
USFWS Not listed


1. The term 'swan song' comes from the ancient Greek belief that a swan sang a song of death when its life was about to end.
2. Male swans are called cobs, females are pens, and young are cygnets.
3. Swans have far more neck vertebrae than mammals, with 24 or 25 vertebrae; most mammals only have seven.
4. Swan eggs are the largest of any flighted bird.
5. Swan parents will carry cygnets on their back while swimming, enabling the parents to regain weight lost to the rigors of mating, egg laying, incubation, simultaneous feeding, and brooding. This practice also provides protection for the downy cygnets.
6. The black-necked swan is the largest South American waterfowl.
7. Swans are known to have a triumph ceremony. Such ceremonies are when a male attacks a rival suitor, then returns to his potential mate to perform an elaborate ceremony while posturing and calling.


Swans are vital in controlling aquatic plant growth. The cygnets are often food for other animals too.

This species's primary threat is drainage of marshy areas.


Austin, G. Birds of the World. New York. Golden Press, Inc., 1961.

Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.

Johnsgard, P. Waterfowl: Their Biology and Natural History. London. University of London Press. 1968.

Palmer, R.S. (ed.). Handbook of North American Birds. Vol. 4. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.