The Black Swan was first recorded by the Dutch navigator Vlamingh in January 1697 in the Swan Estuary. Although it is to be found throughout Australia, this graceful bird has been regarded with special affection by many generations of Western Australians and has long been used to identify things Western Australian.
The plumage is black, often with a brownish tinge, but the flight quills are pure white and very prominent when the bird is seen in flight. The beak is red with a white band near the tip and the legs and feet are dark grey.
Males and females are similar in size and appearance but males can be identified in flight by their larger neck and, when swimming, hold their neck more erect. The bird's voice can often be heard at night and is a musical honk or bugling sound.
Nests are a bulky collection of sticks and rushes found in fresh or brackish swamps and lakes. Between four to eight eggs are laid and these are pale green, becoming paler as incubation proceeds. Incubation takes thirty-five days.
Aboriginal lore tells how the family ancestors of a section of the Bibbulman tribe of Western Australia were black swans who had been changed into men.