The Swan is often associated with music already through the expression “swan song” but also as a sacred animal associated with Apollo, god of music and poetry. The Yi-king also makes it a symbol of music and singing.

For the white swan, the symbolism of whiteness is ambiguous because it is both solar and nocturnal (lunar white), masculine and feminine. The swan is in fact a hermaphrodite symbol in Greek mythology with the love story of Zeus who transformed into a swan to seduce Leda transformed into a goose… In alchemy it has an archetypal androgynous value.

The black swan is mentioned in Scandinavian folklore, in the form of a curse through Andersen’s tale, The Traveling Companion:

“The princess shrieked aloud when he dipped her under the water the first time, and struggled under his hands in the form of a great black swan with fiery eyes. As she rose the second time from the water, the swan had become white, with a black ring round its neck. John allowed the water to close once more over the bird, and at the same time it changed into a most beautiful princess.”

Another story of bewitchment in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with the black swan who becomes the heroine’s evil and fatal double.

More recently, inspired by the expression of the Roman poet Juvenal “a rare bird in the country, rare as a black swan”, the theory of the black swan evokes this animal to symbolize an event very unlikely to happen but which would cause consequences on a considerable scale. For example, a financial crisis, an invention like the internet or the outbreak of a world war perfectly illustrate this theory.

bird art photography
Black swan feeding


The Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) owes its name to the coloring of its plumage.

He is native to Australia where it nests in very dense colonies unlike the White swan.

Before the arrival of Europeans, the Black Swan was widespread and common throughout Australia. As the colonists hunted it for its flesh, its southern herds collapsed. This large black bird was an easy target, especially during the moult which prevents it from flying. Populations in remote areas continued to thrive, as did those introduced to New Zealand. Thanks to this, once its protection was decided, the Black Swan was able to quickly rebuild its numbers and regained most of the lost ground. In some provinces, growth is such that a limitation is applied to control crop damage caused by large flocks.

The Black Swan was introduced to France as an ornamental animal, but populations have developed so well that it is now considered a native species.

It usually lives in dense colonies but can be aggressive during the breeding season. It can hybridise with the mute swan.

He is a sedentary bird.


The black swan is an aquatic bird that lives in or around lakes, rivers, swamps, but it also frequents brackish water.

It feeds on aquatic plants that it searches for by dipping its long neck into the water.

On dry land he also eats various herbs.

The black swan sometimes invests the crops, the damage can be important to the cultivators.

An adult male can weigh nearly 9 kilograms and measure up to 140 centimeters in length for a wingspan of around 200 centimeters.

It is said that couples are mate for life.

Jacques Julien

French photographer based in Paris specialised in black and white photographs, animal photos, architecture, portraits.