Black swan Cygnus atratus pairs for life.
Black swan Cygnus atratus pairs for life. Greg Thomas

Black swans seek a soul mate

The Bird Watcher with Greg Thomas

 Black swan Cygnus atratus Average size: 130cm

THESE are found throughout Australia, with the exception of the Cape York Peninsula and the drier interior.

Outside the breeding season they travel quite large distances.

In high rainfall years emigration occurs from the south-west and south-east into the interior, with a reverse migration to these heartlands in drier years.

They prefer larger salt, brackish or fresh waterways and permanent wetlands, including ornamental lakes, flooded pastures and tidal mud flats; these must have 40m or more of clear water for taking off.

Food consists of algae and weeds, which the bird obtains by plunging its long neck into water up to 1m deep.

Occasionally birds will graze on land but they are clumsy walkers.

Males and females look the same and pair for life.

The nest is a large mound of reeds, grasses and weeds about 1m in diameter and up to 1m high and built in shallow water or on islands.

Both parents share the care of the nest which is reused every year, and is restored or rebuilt as needed. The chicks are able to swim and feed themselves as soon as they hatch.



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