The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus) weighs from 3.5 to 6.7 kg (7.7 to 15 pounds) and can have a wingspan of up to  135 to 177 cm (53 to 70 in). The swans mainly eat vegetation but they supplement their diet with small arthropods and little aquatic vertebrates. They are the smallest species of swan, but the largest waterfowl of South America (where they ranges from southern Brazil to the Falkland Islands).  Wonderfully, the black-necked swan is not on the edge of extinction or even threatened, but is commonplace.  The black-necked swan like freshwater lakes and marshes.  In winter the birds fly to the north of their range, whereas they spends summer in Patagonia and Chile.  The species can be easily recognized by the distinctive black head with red knobs near the base of the bill and white stripe behind eye.  Like mute swans of Europe and Black Swans of Australia, they are almost always silent.

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

The Black-necked Swan (Cygnus melancoryphus)

Once my parents and I were at the Central Park zoo where there was a pair of these magnificent birds swimming in a pool surrounded by glass.  My father was wearing athletic shoes which were red, black, white, and gray.  The male swan took great umbrage with these shoes, presumably thinking they were the infuriating face of a rival swan.  He would make magnificent and terrifying aquatic attacks upon the glass behind which my father was standing until finally we were driven off and he had his sweetie all to himself (with no romantic threats coming from footwear).

Argh! No shoes please!

Argh! No shoes please!