Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Black Beauty

On our recent weekend in Las Vegas, I had a quick glimpse of Down Under, thanks to a tip and some hotspot advice from a couple of different birders. I recently had a reader ask me about black swans and whether or not they were migratory, as he's seen them in Vegas, and to follow up on the sighting I asked a contact I have in Vegas about the birds. Sure enough, they were still around - and happily so - when we arrived in Sin City.

The birds are most often seen at a planned community development that includes a large recreational lake. It is that lake - an oasis in the city - that has drawn the swans, and they're content to stay nearby. I was pleased that when we saw them, the birds were completely unperturbed and unconcerned about my nearby presence, even when I approached within just a few feet to photograph them and see them more clearly. That speaks very highly of the community in that the birds are not molested and feel quite comfortable with their human neighbors.

This gave me the unparalleled opportunity to observe them closely, and they're quite stunning birds. Their sooty black plumage is striking, as are the curls their long back feathers make. The red bill stands out beautifully as does the flash of white on the wings, and I find the red-and-black combination of their colors to be very appropriate for Las Vegas, even though they're a world away from their native Australian range. I was surprised that they're so much smaller than the mute swans I'm more familiar with, but they're just as elegant. They're also more magnanimous, as I've always found mute swans to have an easily provoked aggressive side.

Though it wasn't a hard lifer to find nor to observe, I still feel privileged to add these black beauties to my life list.

1 comment:

Bill S. said...

It is exciting to find "Lifer" birds. Congrats. It is interesting that they would be found in Vegas. Great pictures.