Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Black-necked Swan

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me... Seven Swans a'swimming...

Cygnus melancoryphus
Ah yes, another day another bird. Did you know that if you were to actually buy all these gifts (the real versions in the song, not the animal equivalents like Dragonflies) you would shell out the most money for the Swans?

The Swans in the song are probably not the Swans we're talking about today. I'd place bets on the Mute Swan, which is widespread in Europe and Asia. But I've already written about that particular species, so today we'll learn about it's different, South American cousin.

Black-necked Swans are named for their black necks that contrast with an otherwise white body. They also sport bright red knobs at the base of the bill that enlarge (on males) during the breeding season.

The Black-necked Swan is interesting in that it is both the largest native Waterfowl in South America, and also the smallest of all the Swans. They also have the designation of being one of the fastest Swans, and are capable of flying at speeds of up to 50mph (80kph).

Black-necked Swans are social birds during the non-breeding season, but when it comes time for mating and nesting they become aggressive and territorial. Partners are typically monogamous for life, but will find a new mate if their previous one dies. Though the female does all of the incubation,both parents help to care for the cygnets. They will even let the little Swans ride on their backs for the first few weeks of life!

IUCN Status : Least Concern
Location : South America
Size : Wingspan up to 70in (178cm), Weight up to 15lbs (6.8kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Cygnus -- Species : C. melancoryphus

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