About 5,000 birds are legally shot each year out of a national population estimated at 60,000. Black swan are classified as a game bird; to hunt them you need a hunting license from Fish & Game and you must observe the regional bag limit and shooting season.
In the years prior to breeding, young black swans seem to leave the place they were born for marine and estuarine habitats. When breeding age is reached, they usually return to their birthplace and remain there for the rest of their long lives, sometimes 20 years.
Diet is mainly the leaves of submerged aquatic plants, but they will also graze on pasture – grass and clovers – much to the ire of farmers. Their voice is a high-pitched bugling, a loud hiss in defence of the nest or young, and a shrill whistle. The wings whistle in flight.
Skinning a swan is surprisingly easy: simply cut the skin open from neck to stomach, careful not to cut into the meat or gut cavity. Slide your thumbs in and pull the skin aside to give access to the breasts and legs. Cut out the breasts following the sternum bone and rib cage. Fold and dislocate legs, cutting free, removing the feet at the knee joint as you go.


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