Thursday, 29 August 2013

Spring Cygnets in Waikanae and on NZ Birds Online

It has been such a mild winter that there are now signs of spring everywhere, although August is still officially winter. On a walk yesterday at Waimanu Lagoons in Waikanae I saw these cygnets.

I read up on black swans on the new NZ Birds Online website, which was very helpful This website makes it easy to find and identify birds. Once you've found the bird you are looking for, it has lots of photos, sound recordings, data about breeding and lifespan and quite a bit of written information. The writing is quite technical so children might need help from an adult to get the most out of this website.

Here are some facts I found out about black swans:

  • Black swans are native to Australia and have been deliberately introduced to New Zealand, but some may have flown here too. 
  • They live on estuaries, lakes and large ponds.
  • They eat grass and plants growing in the water (herbivores).
  • They can live for up to 15 years.
  • There are around 50,000 black swans in New Zealand.
  • They are a legal gamebird, which means that people can shoot them.
Swans bend their long necks when they are eating grass on land. On the water their necks allow them to put their heads underwater and eat from the bottom of the pond, while they are floating on the surface. I would like to have taken a photo of this behaviour but the lagoons were too murky to see underneath the surface.