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Black Swan


Black Swan

Scientific name:

Cygnus atratus



Distribution and Habitat

The black swan is common in the wetlands of southwestern and eastern Australia and adjacent coastal islands.


To stand and watch a black swan gracefully glide by on a still lake must be one of the more peaceful sights you could enjoy in Centennial Parklands.

Full of personality, this large native swan is the world’s only mostly black swan. It has white flight feathers that can best be seen when the bird is in flight. Being a heavy bird they use a long take-off run accompanied by much splashing and frantic flapping to get airborne. Once in the air their white wing feathers show off powerful rhythmic wing beats. They fly with their long necks outstretched and present a distinctive silhouette against the sky. Their bills are red with a white bar near the tip. The male has a longer bill and neck than the female.

Black swans feed on underwater vegetation by up-ending and using their long necks to reach deeper. They can be found in great numbers on large areas of shallow water with aquatic vegetation, lakes, estuaries and flooded pastures. They lose their flight feathers during their moult and will gather in large numbers on secure waters.

Breeding usually takes place from April to October but can occur any time after good rains. This season in the Parklands some have already hatched their young.

The nest is a large pile of mainly reeds in shallow water, on an island or floating among reeds in deeper water. They lay a large clutch of five to six eggs that are incubated for about 40 days.

If the adult leaves the nest the eggs are covered with damp vegetation for protection.

The juvenile birds, called cygnets, are mainly grey with dull white flight feathers and leave the nest after about 150 days. Males are called Cobs and females Pens.

Black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697, when Willem de Vlamingh's expedition explored the Swan River, Western Australia.

Where to see the Black Swans in Centennial Parklands.

Black swans are plentiful in Centennial Parklands and you should be able to see them on any of the lakes and ponds.

Find out where the birds are!

Centennial Park's duck pond and lily pond are both popular locations for birdwatchers – visit our Popular Locations page to learn more.

Enjoy a BBQ in the Parklands

If you're looking for a BBQ spot in Sydney's inner east, Centennial Parklands has eight free electric barbecues, each with two hotplates.