Harteman Wildfowl Aviaries | educating since 1998

Black swan

Cygnus atratus

Zwarte zwaan / Trauer schwan / Cygne noir


The Black Swan is commonly seen in captivity and is only surpassed in popularity by the related Mute Swan. Seen not only in private collections, but in city parks and large zoos, the Black Swan is native Australia and Tasmania. The populations on New Zealand are introduced.
Black Swans are large, graceful birds. Both sexes are black with bright red bills that sport a white band, gray feet and legs and white primaries that are seen only in flight. Immature swans are quite different in appearance, being dull brown overall with a dark bill.
In the wild, these Swans usually nest in June and July, but here in the Northern Hemisphere, it is not uncommon for the pair to begin nesting at any point during the year! The nest is built near the water's edge, usually in a large mound of grasses and reeds. To simulate this, provide lots of straw and weeds. If the swans decide to nest during the Winter, it is a good idea to remove the eggs and place them in an incubator to prevent freezing. The clutch consists of 5 to 8 seven large greenish eggs that are incubated by both parents for about 36 days.
Swan parents will defend their nest and young ferociously, so it would be a good idea if you have visitors to your farm, to keep the swans penned and be careful yourself when doing your daily maintenance. The little swans do not grow very fast and won't reach sexual maturity until their third year.
Black Swans are fairly hardy birds and do well in most climates. Like most swans, they are very large and need a large source of water. They love to eat lots of greens, so if they are penned or during the Winter months, provide plenty of lettuce and other greens.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern (IUCN, 2009).

The global population is estimated to number c.100,000-1,000,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2006), while the population in Japan has been estimated at c.100-10,000 introduced breeding pairs (Brazil 2009).


Above: adult Black swan


Above: a couple of Black swans and their cygnets


Above: a Black cygnet of several days old

Above: a couple of Black swans with newborn hatchlings

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