Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)


French: Cygne noir German: Schwarzschwan Spanish: Cisne negro

Anas atrata


, 1790,

lakes of Australia


Sometimes placed in monospecific genus Chenopis. Apparently most closely related to C. melancoryphus and C. olor. Hybridization with C. olor, and with several species of Anser geese, has been reported in captivity. Monotypic.


Australia and Tasmania; introduced and well established in New Zealand.

Introduced in many parts of the world in ornamental wildfowl collections, where interbreeding with local anseriforms not uncommon.

Descriptive notes

110–140 cm; male 3800–8750 g, female 3700–7200 g; wingspan 160–200 cm. Unmistakable. Alula, primaries and outer secondaries white, though normally... read more


Adults give soft, musical and high-pitched bugling notes, both in flight and on water, presumably... read more


Favours large lakes or lagoons of relatively shallow, permanent and fresh or brackish waters,... read more

Food and feeding

Almost entirely vegetarian diet, consisting of leaves and shoots of various aquatic plants (Typha, Potamogeton, ... read more


Season variable with locality, normally adapted to period of highest water levels: late May–Aug in Western Australia, Aug–Oct... read more


Sedentary in permanent suitable habitat, but congregates on permanent waterbodies during drought... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Protected both by law and sentiment in Australia. Widespread and locally very common in both Australia and New Zealand. May have... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Black Swan (Cygnus atratus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 9 December 2019).