18 He aha tērā? What is that?

They’re so graceful and elegant. Often seen in pairs on the lakes. At the right time of year these large black birds may have a half dozen fluffy white or grey young in tow. He aha tērā? What is that?

Large black water bird with 6 white young.
Photo by Miraz Jordan. Used with permission.

Scroll down to see the answer.

Answer: it’s a kakīānau, black swan:

Identification: Length: 110 – 140 cm; Weight: 5 – 7 kg (male), 4 – 6 kg (female)

Similar species: the only other swan in New Zealand is the larger and all white mute swan, which is very rare.

A large black swan with a bright red bill with a terminal white band, red eyes, and dark grey legs. Females are markedly smaller than males; both sexes have conspicuous white flight feathers.

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