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Rare sight of black swans in an Irvine lake peaks curiosity

A trio of black swans, rarely seen in Southern California, were spotted in Woodbridge Lake in Irvine on Aug. 15, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Marc Alexander)

Marc Alexander has been taking daily strolls around Woodbridge Lake in Irvine for more than 25 years – but the sight he documented recently was a first.

A trio of black swans, rarely seen in Southern California, were hanging out on the lake, prompting passerby to stop, snap photos and marvel at the exotic birds.

“I think that seeing three gorgeous black swans was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said.

The sight happened the morning of Aug. 15, peaking Alexander’s curiosity about the birds’ origin. He tried to find the species in an app called Merlin Bird ID, but no results came up.

That’s because the black swans are native of Australia and Tasmania, according to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a nonprofit that responded to Alexander’s inquiries.

“Black swans are sometimes kept by private breeders, aviaries and estates as ornamental birds, but if these were in a public park of some sort, it wouldn’t hurt to let the California Department of Fish and Wildlife know about it,” a public information specialist for the Cornell lab wrote in a response.

Though they are rarely seen in Southern California, there have been documented sightings. There were a pair of black swans spotted on Balboa Island in February 2019 and then another pair in Rainbow Harbor off Long Beach in May 2019.

For Alexander, who is sheltering in place and only going for walks near his home during the coronavirsus pandemic, it was a nice break from the monotony.

“One thing you can still do in the pandemic is take advantage of the outdoors,” he said. “You can take advantage and forget about the pandemic that weighs on all our shoulders.”

Source: Orange County Register

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