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Black Swan - BirdForum Opus

Adult carrying a chick
Photo © by Tiger1
Bibra Lake, Perth, Western Australia, 14 September 2016
Cygnus atratus


110-142cm (43¼-56 in)

  • Mainly black plumage
  • White flight feathers of the wing edges
  • Bright red bill with a pale bar and tip
  • Greyish black legs and feet

Juvenile - Greyish-brown with pale-edged feathers.
Subadult - Similar to adult but with black tips to the white flight feathers.


Southeast and southwest regions of Australia. Has also been introduced to New Zealand, Florida and the Netherlands.


This is a monotypic species[1].


Any wet area, fresh water and salt water. Swamps and rivers.

Molting adult in flight
Photo © by aa2
Western Australia, 13 May 2009



They have a vegetarian diet, consisting of the leaves and shoots of a variety of aquatic plants.


Both sexes build the large nest which is a 1meter high mound of reeds, grasses and weeds which may be up to 1.5 metres diameter, in shallow water or on islands. The clutch of 4-8 greenish-white eggs are incubated for about 35-40 days. The young fledge about 6 months later.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Wikipedia contributors. (2018, October 15). Black swan. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:20, November 3, 2018, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Black_swan&oldid=864106999
  3. Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2017). Black Swan (Cygnus atratus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/52804 on 10 March 2017).
  4. Marchant, S. & Higgins, P.J. (coordinating editors) 1990. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand & Antarctic Birds. Volume 1, Ratites to ducks. Melbourne, Oxford University Press.
  5. Williams, M.J. 2013. Black swan. In Miskelly, C.M. (ed.) New Zealand Birds Online. http://www.nzbirdsonline.org.nz

Arthur Grosset's Birds

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