There’s nothing quite as exquisitely, elegantly, beautiful as a swan is there? And Black Swans seem to take the word “gracefulness” to a whole new dusky level.
Europeans believed that all swans were white, until “gobsmacked” Dutch explorers came across the black variety in Western Australia in 1836 (a “black swan event” has since been used to describe an historical incident that was unprecedented and unexpected).
The Black Swan is a highly nomadic bird with an erratic migration pattern, dependent on food availability and climatic conditions. It is native to Australasia but has been reintroduced to New Zealand , where it had been hunted to extinction.
Dee Why Lagoon, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches was once home to a large colony of swans which fed on the prolific sea grass. The “useless swamps” surrounding the lagoon were systematically drained to enable urban development and the living birds largely disappeared -their image, ironically, being retained in symbolic form to represent the suburb (one wag believed that the swan logo should have been replaced by the crane!)
In recent times, small numbers of black swans have tentatively returned to the area but dog attacks, the ingestion of fish hooks and human interference has lead to a perilous existence.
You’re most likely to observe Black Swans on larger bodies of water because they lose all of their flight feathers after breeding and are unable to fly for a month. They settle on lakes and lagoons, therefore, for relative safety. They are almost exclusively herbivorous, feeding on aquatic, marshland and pasture plants and algae.
Black Swans breed mainly in the southeast and southwest of the continent, they are monogamous and share incubation and cygnet rearing duties between the sexes.
|Black Swan at Manly Dam|
Black swan (Cygnus Atratus)
Size: 120cm to 142cm
Wingspan: 2 metres
Breeding Season: June to September
Clutch size: Up to 9 eggs taking 35 days to hatch
Lifespan: Up to 40 years.