Swan baby boom

Northam cygnets are a good sign for the swan population.
Northam cygnets are a good sign for the swan population.

Shire of Northam President Steven Pollard said there were concerns about the dwindling number of the white mute swans after some died and others flew away during the past year.

The Avon River is one of few places in WA where a colony of white mute swans, introduced to Australia in the late 1800s, remains. It is believed Russian settler and former Northam Mayor Oscar Bernard introduced the swans to Northam in the early 1900s.

There are believed to be about only 200 surviving birds in Australia and NZ.

‘The hatching of the cygnets is a good sign that the population is coming back,’ Mr Pollard said.

‘The white mute swan numbers have been at historically low levels for a few years now and the numbers need to increase if the population is to survive.’

At one time, Northam’s mute swan population topped 80.

Members of the community and the Shire monitor the swan population.

Shire senior community development co-ordinator Annique Gray said the swans were an important tourism feature.

‘The swans are unique to Northam and many visitors identify the town with these magnificent birds,’ she said.

‘The town pool, established in the 1800s, retains water all year round and provide a haven for birdlife ” the swans are a beautiful feature of this vibrant habitat.’

The white mute swans became a protected species in 1950 under the Wildlife Conservation Act. This means it is illegal to remove a white swan from the wild, keep a swan as a pet or release a swan into the wild without the appropriate licence.