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Kakīānau/Black Swan Cygnus atratus

Native. Not threatened.


A large black bird (1.3m in length), the Black Swan has white wingtips which can be seen when flying. The red beak has a white band near the tip. It flies with slow wing beats, its neck outstretched, landing heavily on water and needing a good, splashing runoff to take off again.


The Black Swan is vegetarian and feeds mostly on aquatic plants, by reaching down into the water with its long neck. When water levels are too high for it to reach the plants it normal feeds on it resorts to pasture and causes problems for farmers. It's usually found on lakes and other wide areas of fresh or brackish water, but non-breeders also inhabit Estuaries. It's usually seen in flocks, the members of which communicate with low honking sounds.

Females are smaller than males while juveniles are grey but black feathers come through as the age. Cygnets are bundles of grey fluff and look cute but be warned, parents and fiercely protective.

nzbirdsonline-black swan

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