Black-necked Swan

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Common Name: Black-necked Swan
Scientific Name: Cygnus melancoryphus

Size: 40-49 inches (102-124 cm); Wingspan: 53-70 inches (135-177 cm)

Habitat: South America; breeds in Chilean Southern Zone, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego and on the Falkland Islands. In the austral winter, this species migrates northwards to Paraguay and southern Brazil.

Its preferred habitat is freshwater marshes, lagoon and lake shores.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: Unknown amount of adult individuals. The overall population trend is uncertain.

In 2004 and 2005, thousands of Black-necked Swans in the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary in Chile died or migrated away following major contamination by Valdivia Pulp Mill located on the Cruces River which feeds the wetlands. By August 2005, the birds in the Sanctuary had been decimated with only four birds remaining from the estimated population of 5,000 birds. Autopsies on dead swans attributed the deaths to high levels of iron and other metals polluting the water.

Diet: Submerged and emergent aquatic vegetation as well as insects and fish spawn.

Nesting: Sexes are alike with the male being larger. The body plumage is white with a black neck, head and greyish bill. It has a red knob near the base of the bill and white stripe behind eye. The cygnet has a light grey plumage with black bill and feet.

The female lays four to six eggs in a large nest constructed from vegetation in reedbeds, close to the water’s edge, less preferably on land.

Cool Facts: The Black-necked swan is the smallest of the swans. Unlike most other waterfowl, both parents regularly carry the cygnets on their backs.

Found in Songbird Remix Waterfowl Volume 3: Swans of the World

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