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Cygnus atratus

Images and story by Melanie Barsony

Late in August a tiny Black Swan cygnet was rescued by fisherman while in his boat on the Clarence River at Tabulam. Recent rains had swelled the river and the newly hatched cygnet was washed away from the rest of its family, who were nowhere to be seen.
He brought the cygnet to a WIRES carer in Casino. Weighing only 150 grams, the little orphan cried frantically until a large stuffed toy dog was placed in the basket with him. He snuggled under this surrogate “mother” and slept for two hours!
The next day two domestic ducklings were donated by Geoff of Backmede, and the little family settled in to routine of eating and sleeping.
After a week of intensive care, they were introduced to a larger aviary, with a paddle pool pond, but were still brought inside each night.

Black Swans are often seen on our local water ways and lagoons. They are vegetarian, feeding primarily on water weeds and algae. They grow into large birds, with wing span of 2 meters and weighing 9 kilos. They live for up to 40 years and mate for life, with both adults raising the young. They build a nest of reeds and grasses on small islands or floating on the water, and lay five or six eggs. The cygnets are covered in grey down, and don’t fledge until six months old and they stay in the family group for nine months.
Australia has the worlds’ only black swans, white swans have been introduced here from Europe and England.

As the cygnet grew, it became clear he needed a larger pond, so together with his duck friends he was transferred to another WIRES carer with a large lagoon. He continues to grow while still being support fed and brought into the safety of a pen at night.

Many thanks to the fisherman who rescued this little cygnet, who most certainly have perished on his own.


Updated January 1 2019  

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