Black swans live in brackish lakes, rivers, and swamplands of Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. They are also an introduced species by mistake in many other countries, caused by captive individuals escaping. One such place is the United Kingdom. Some black swans have also escaped in Florida but they don’t seem to be developing a stable population there yet.
The diet of a black swan consists of a few different types of aquatic plants. The most common plants eaten by black swans are algae, reedmace, and stoneworts. During floods, black swans have been known to eat crops. Sometimes they also eat insects.
They are often solitary animals but can flock in colonies of several hundred individuals. A group of black swans is called a flight, bank, herd, team, bevy, or wedge. Black swans are the least territorial of all swan species. In addition to forming large groups while feeding, they also nest in colonies. When food is plentiful, they are sedentary. When one food source is not enough to sustain them, they migrate to a new location en masse, flying in a V formation. The range of a group of black swans can be anywhere from one square kilometer to several million. Black swans are not seasonal migrants.
Black swans are monogamous. Most swans stay with the same mate for life. The female is responsible for building their nest, usually out of leaves and sticks floating on the water. A pair will reuse the same nest year after year, carrying out any necessary repairs before laying their eggs. The typical clutch, laid in the spring or summer, is five or six eggs. The father helps with incubating the eggs.
Baby swans, called cygnets or flappers, are able to swim after hatching. They stay in the nest for two or three weeks and, although they can fly and venture away from their parents at five or six months old, they tend to remain with their parents and siblings until nine months of age. Black swans aren’t fully adults until they are 1.5 to 2.5 years old.
There are about 500,000 black swans in the wild and their populations are stable. They are not currently at any danger for extinction! In Australia, black swans are totally protected by law against hunting.
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