Swan (black) / Cygnus atratus

Did you know...

On the ground, a group of black swans is called a bank. When flying in a group, they are called a wedge.

Its neck is long (the longest neck amongst swans, relative to its size) and it is curved into an “S”-shape.

The black swan swims with only one leg, tucking up the other above its tail. This may be because the swan can change direction more easily when swimming, if it needs to escape from a predator or to move quickly to get to food.

Black swans may be found on their own but they also often form loose groups consisting of several hundred or sometimes thousands of birds. They usually move in flocks, sometimes nest in colonies and are the least territorial of swan species.

Unlike the white mute swans, black swans have black feathers and red beaks, except for its broad white wing tips, visible in flight.

They fly at night, which seems suitable since they would be impossible to see at night, and rest during the day.

Black swans are almost entirely vegetarian. They feed mainly on algae and submerged weeds, which they pull up by tipping forward and reaching their long necks down below the surface, their bottoms in the air and their legs comically waggling in the air.

On the water as well as in flight, black swans make a range of high-pitched, musical, bugling, baying or trumpeting calls. They have also been heard to make a variety of softer crooning notes. If disturbed while nesting they tend to make a whistling sound.

Why are black swans black?
This pigment also makes feathers stronger, and it’s thought that many birds have black wing-tips because high levels of melanin protect the flight feathers from wear-and-tear. But perhaps swans didn’t hear about this little secret because their flight feathers are white.