Black swans are large, black waterfowl.They are easily recognizable because of their dark feathers, known as plumage, and their bright red beaks. Their unique coloration makes them a popular choice for zoos and gardens.
Interesting Facts About the Black Swans
These beautiful swans are truly a sight to behold. Far from just a pretty sight, black swans, and most other swan species, can be surprisingly aggressive. Learn more about these birds below.
- Protective Pairs – Pairs of swans will defend a territory or water body from intruders. The swans will attack anything they view as a threat or a rival, and become particularly confrontational when they are nesting.
- Male and Female – The males, known as cobs, are slightly larger than the females, known as “pens.” Their offspring, called “cygnets,” are much lighter in color, and darken as they age.
- Waterfowl Relationships – Many species of waterfowl, and most swan species, are monogamous. The birds pair up when they reach sexual maturity, and then remain together for the rest of their life.
- Male Pairs – Scientists estimate that male-male pairs exist in a quarter of the population of black swans. As they obviously cannot reproduce themselves, they will steal a nest that established by another pair of swans. The other pair will construct a new nest and go one to reproduce again, while the male-male pair will incubate the eggs and raise the cygnets!
Like most swans, this species has a characteristic “S” shaped neck and a large body. Black swans have one of the longest necks of all swan species relative to their size. They are large birds, with a wingspan of 6 feet or more, and a maximum weight of 20 pounds.
These graceful birds commonly use their long wings in territorial or aggressive displays. While swimming, the birds will lift their wings off their backs to make them look larger and more intimidating to predators or rivals.
Diet of the Black Swans
Black swans are herbivores, and they feed mostly on underwater plants and algae. In different areas, specific species of plants will make up large portions of their diet. Some of these important plant species include cattails, eel grass, pondweed, and more.
In shallow waters they simply dip their long necks below the surface to eat. In deeper waters they will tip completely upside-down and stretch their necks to reach submerged vegetation.