Before the discovery of Australia, people in the old world were convinced that all swans were white. Swans were never meant to be black; in medieval Europe unicorns had more credibility.
In 1636 Antonie Caen, a sailor on board the Dutch sailing ship the Banda, first sighted black swans near Bernier Island off the south-western coast of Australia. In 1697, the Dutch explorer, Willem de Vlamingh, captured two of these birds in what is aptly known as the Swan River in Perth, Australia today. Unfortunately these birds died on their voyage back to Holland.
The black swan is a large waterbird; a species of swan which breeds mainly in the southeast and southwest regions of Australia. With a wingspan around two metres and standing around a metre tall, they're also one of Australia's largest birds.
They are nomadic, with erratic migration patterns dependent upon climatic conditions. They are monogamous breeders, and are unusual in that one-quarter of all pairings are homosexual, mostly between males. Both partners share incubation and cygnet rearing duties. They steal nests, or form temporary threesomes with females to obtain eggs, driving away the female after she lays the eggs.
Interestingly, more of their cygnets survive to adulthood than those of different-sex pairs, possibly due to their superior ability to defend large portions of land. The same reasoning has been applied to male flamingo pairs raising chicks.
These photos were all shot recently in the Melbourne suburb of Williamstown, Australia.