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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 13:32 EDT

Coscoroba Swan

The Coscoroba Swan (Coscoroba coscoroba) is the smallest species of swan belonging to the family Anatidae. Since it is only distantly related to the other swans it has its own genus, Coscoroba.

The plumage is white except for black tips to the outer six primary feathers. This black is often barely visible on the closed wing but in flight, they are prominent. The bird has a red beak, legs and feet and they look somewhat more like geese than swans. The female looks almost identical to the male. The Coscoroba is also lacking the black mask that other swans have where their lores are between the eyes and beak. They look like a very small swan in body and look like a goose in the head.

Coscoroba Swans breed in South America from southern Chile and central Argentina south to Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. In winter it flies north to central Chile, northern Argentina, Uruguay and the south east tip of Brazil.

Their preferred habitat is well-vegetated swamps and lagoons, where they live mainly on grasses and small water plants, but will occasionally add in mussels and fish to their diet. The population is estimated as 100,000 birds.

The female incubates the eggs, while the male stands guard and aggressively helps to protect the fledglings against predators after hatching. Coscoroba Swans live to an age of approximately twenty years.

Coscoroba Swan