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Meet Ornamental Lake’s cutest new residents

Meet Ornamental Lake's cutest new residents! Melbourne Gardens is home to more than 50 different species of native birds including the beautiful Black Swans (Cygnus atratus) Francis and Louise, who just welcomed six adorable cygnets to Ornamental Lake.

Between June and November is the peak breeding time for Black Swans, though they may nest at any time of the year. Francis and Louise carefully constructed their nest by the water's edge from weeds and debris found at Ornamental Lake. Swans tend not to re-use their painstakingly crafted nests, and build new ones each breeding season.

Typically, a female swan will lay a clutch of between four and eleven sage-green eggs which are laid over a day or two. Incubation is a relatively long process of around thirty-five to forty days. Both mum and dad contribute to incubating the eggs, and overall, the male swans tend to spend more time on the nests as they typically take the 'day shift' of incubation, with the females incubating the eggs at night.

Everyone's excited about the new cygnets. 'I think one of the most wonderful things about this new swan family and families over the years is how much locals come to love them. A lot of people will come in and ask about the cygnets and how they’re going, and there’s a lot of care from this city about these beautiful birds which is just lovely' said Erin Kelly, Team Leader of Visitor Experience, Access and Tourism at Melbourne Gardens. 

Though Black Swans are a familiar sight around Melbourne Gardens, Europeans refused to believe in their existence and were only convinced once when Willem de Vlamingh, the first European settler to see Black Swans in 1697, managed to dispatch a couple of specimens to Batavia. As well as being native to Australia, Black Swans were also endemic to New Zealand until they were hunted to extinction (the species was reintroduced in the mid 1800s).

It's worth keeping an eye out for Black Swans, especially this happy family next time you're visiting Melbourne Gardens. If you are lucky enough to spot these fluffy little cygnets, make sure to admire them from afar. Both parents tend to become aggressive when they feel their nests or cygnets are threatened, and won't hold back if they think you might cause harm, beating their wings at whatever they see as a threat so rapidly that they can cause bruising!

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