Monday, 2 March 2009
A Rather Different Black Bird!
I thought it might be interesting to post some photos of a Black Swan which HLH (His Loyal Highness, otherwise known as my husband) took last February on a local fishing lake. I don't recall ever seeing one in our area before.
After doing some research it seems there are more in this country than there used to be but they are still considered to be unusual.
The Black Swan (Cygnus Atratus) is a native of Australia and Tasmania and is also found wild in New Zealand where it was introduced. It was brought to the UK as an ornamental bird in the same way as Peacocks but inevitably there have been escapees into the wild.
The Black Swan has a bright red bill and white flight feathers which can also be seen clearly while preening and it has the longest neck in relation to it's size of all Swan species. It makes a musical bugle like sound and can also whistle, especially when disturbed while breeding and nesting. Most Swans are territorial during the breeding season but the Black Swan is the exception to this rule often building nests in colonies.
The Black Swan is the official state and bird emblem of Western Australia and appears on their flag and Coat of Arms. For over forty years it has been the town emblem of Dawlish in this country as a result of having been introduced to the town from New Zealand by John Nash, a Dawlish-born man who emigrated during adulthood but paid frequent visits to the town.
Another rather odd fact is that, because it was universally thought that all Swans were white until the black variety was found in Australia, events of enormous impact which are rare and virtually impossible to predict are called "black swans" such as the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It seems a shame to me that such a beautiful creature should be associated with circumstances of such horror and ugliness.