Monday, May 30, 2011

Black Swan

Cygnus atratus
Before stumbling upon this species I had always thought that black swans were just a color variation. But not so!   Their is actually an entire, unique species of bird that can be found in Australia, as well as in introduced populations in New Zealand and North America.

Despite the name, the  Black Swan is not completely black; they actually have white flight feathers that are not visible when the wings are folded down. They also have bright red bills. Black Swans have the longest neck of any swan, are also one of the largest of all the waterfowl species, with a wingspan of up to 2m!

Black Swan in Flight
Black Swans mate for life, and actually perform a courting behavior called a "Triumph Ceremony" that helps to strengthen the bond of the pair. These dances are also used to threaten outsiders and mark territories.

Females lay 5-6 eggs at a time, and they are incubated and cared for by both parents. Cygnets are precocial and greyish-brown in color. Young Swans will often form their own flocks until they pair up for mating.

IUCN Status :  Least Concern
Location : Australia
Size : Length up to 55in (140cm), Wingspan up to 6.5ft (2m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Cygnus -- Species : C. atratus

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