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Exotics

Black Swan

black swan

Cygnus atratus

Distribution:

Australia, and introduced into New Zealand in the 1860s

Habitat:

Shallow water, swamps, estuaries, lagoons

Diet:

Mainly vegetation, leaves and the stems of aquatic plant; they may also eat crops

Breeding:

In New Zealand July to October

Nest:

Built from sticks and vegetation

Eggs:

Laid at daily intervals, four to eight pale green eggs incubated for five weeks

Chicks:

Young learn to swim and feed themselves very quickly

Predators:

Humans may hunt swans for their meat and feathers

Conservation status:

Common

General:

The male stands about 1.3m tall and weighs around 6kg. The wingspan is up to 183cm. They are generally black all over with white wing tips. The eyes are red, and the bill is also red with white at the tip.


Pairs are strongly territorial and defend a large area around the nest. If forced to nest communally, they defend the area immediately around the nest. Swans mate for life but if a partner is lost, they will find a replacement.


The male swan is called a “cob”, female a “pen”, young “cygnets” and a group of swans is called a “herd".