- Common Name
- black swan
- Genus Species
- Cygnus (swan) atratus (covered in black, as for mourning)
- As indicated by its name, this species of swan has dark body plumage with white feather tips on its wings. The bill is orange-red with a white band near the tip and the eyes are bright red.
- 0.2 to 1.3 m long (0.22 to 1.5 ft)
- Up to 9 kg (20 lbs.)
- As herbivores, these swans eat mainly aquatic vegetation
- 29 to 36 days
- Clutch Size
- 5 to 6 eggs
- Feldging Duration
- Approximately 100 days
- Sexual Maturity
- Approximately 2 to 3 years
- Life Span
- Up to 40 years
- Australia and Tasmania; populations in New Zealand have been introduced
- Found in areas around lakes and rivers
- Global: Unknown
- IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed
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.
Male swans are called cobs, females are pens, and young are cygnets.
Swans have far more neck vertebrae than mammals, with 24 or 25 vertebrae; most mammals only have seven.
Swans in general have the largest eggs of any flighted bird.
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.
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.
Ecology and Conservation
Drainage of marshy areas is the primary threat to this species survival but these birds are fairly common and widespread.
In Victoria and Tasmania they have caused such crop damage that the government has established short hunting seasons for the bird.
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Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press. 1978.
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.