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Black Swan


Black Swan

Scientific name: Cygnus atratus Anatidae
Conservation status in NSW: Not Listed
Commonwealth status: Not Listed


In adult Black Swans the body is mostly black, with the exception of the broad white wing tips which are visible in flight. The bill is a deep orange-red, paler at the tip, with a distinct narrow white band towards the end. Younger birds are much greyer in colour, and have black wing tips. Adult females are smaller than the males.
Source: Terry Fleming/Boyanga South


Black Swans are found throughout Australia with the exception of Cape York Peninsula, and are more common in the south. The Black Swan has been introduced into several countries, including New Zealand, where it is now common, and is a vagrant to New Guinea.

Habitat and Ecology 

Black Swans are widespread throughout much of Australia, and occur wherever there is a wetland, from river estuaries, bays and great lakes to inundated pasture and water-meadows. In some places, where the wetlands are permanent, Black Swans are sedentary, remaining throughout the year. However, where the wetlands dry out for part of the year, swans are forced to disperse over wide distances in search of suitable water, and have even been recorded swimming in isolated waterholes surrounded by vast tracts of arid stony desert.
The Black Swan is a vegetarian. Food consists of algae and weeds, which the bird obtains by plunging its long neck into water up to 1 m deep. Occasionally birds will graze on land, but they are clumsy walkers.
Black Swans form isolated pairs or small colonies in shallow wetlands. Birds pair for life, with both adults raising one brood per season. The eggs are laid in an untidy nest made of reeds and grasses. The nest is placed either on a small island or floated in deeper water. The chicks are covered in grey down, and are able to swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch.
Source: Terry Fleming/Boyanga South


The draining of waterbodies or loss of natural flows to key wetlands sites reduces the opportunity for these large birds to find food and nesting habitats
Overgrazing and land clearing can reduce habitat for this species
Nest destruction or disturbance during breeding by feral animals or domestic dogs can cause loss of chicks

Activities to assist this species 

Ensure natural flows to important wetland sites are maintained
Protect vegetation and habitat from over grazing and land clearing
Control feral animals in and around key wetland sites
Control roaming of domestic dogs during particularly during breeding seasons
Source: Curtis Hayne 

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