Though native to Africa, the Egyptian goose is recognizable worldwide thanks to imported birds, escapees and feral colonies in many areas of Europe and North America. These unique and distinctive birds - actually large ducks rather than true geese - were worshiped by the ancient Egyptians and have been discovered in different types of Egyptian artwork.
- Bill: Triangular spatulate shape that is pale white-pink with a dark nail, nostrils and edge
- Size: 27-30 inches long with 52-60-inch wingspan, bulky body, long neck
- Colors: Brown, gray, yellow, pink, red, gray-brown, red-brown, white, rufous, buff, black, green
- Markings: Genders are similar but males are slightly larger. The head is pale with brown speckling heavier at the nape forming a rufous collar. A wide brown patch surrounds the bright yellow eye. The back and wings vary from gray-brown to red-brown, and the neck and breast are buff. A chocolate brown patch can be seen on the lower breast. The flanks and abdomen are gray, and the tail is black. Undertail coverts vary from rufous to white. The wings have a large white patch on the leading edge, but it isn't always visible when the wings are folded. The speculum is a dark iridescent green and can also be difficult to see. Legs and feet are bright pinkish red. Juveniles are duller overall with more extensive brown on the head.
Grasses, seeds, grains, aquatic plants, worms, insects (See: Granivorous)
Habitat and Migration:
The Egyptian goose is native to inland tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa where it can be found along rivers, marshes, lakes and similar wetlands, though it is absent from the central western coast of the continent and the densest forest regions. These waterfowl do not migrate, but can be nomadic in drier regions as they follow the best food sources throughout the year.
Feral and domestic populations of Egyptian geese are adaptable and can often be seen mixed with other ducks and geese on ponds or lakes in urban and suburban parks where imported birds have escaped from collectors or aviaries. Strong, established feral populations are found in the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates, as well as in Florida and southern California in the United States.
Most of the year these birds are relatively quiet, but females are noisier with honking quacks during the nesting season. Other hisses and honks are also part of these birds' typical vocalizations, and can be a way to help distinguish genders, as males are more likely to hiss while females are more likely to honk or quack.
These are highly territorial, aggressive birds that will chase away competitors during the nesting season, when they are found in pairs or individually. Outside the breeding season they can gather in flocks. They forage on land and walk well, but are also strong swimmers and can dive to feed on aquatic plants. Egyptian geese frequently roost in trees.
These are monogamous birds believed to mate for life after courtship rituals that include honking, wing flutters and neck stretches when males try to impress females. The nest is a simple construction of reeds, grass and leaves, and Egyptian geese frequently reuse the abandoned nests of other waterfowl or choose to nest in tree cavities. The eggs are a creamy yellowish-white with 5-9 eggs in a typical brood, only one of which is usually laid per year.
Both parents incubate the eggs for 26-29 days, and the precocial young can leave the nest soon after hatching. Both parents continue to care for the goslings for an additional 60-75 days until they can fend for themselves, but the young birds often stay with their family group for several more months until they may be ready to establish their own territories.
Attracting Egyptian Geese:
While most waterfowl are not typical backyard birds, Egyptian geese can visit backyards in areas near ponds and lakes where ground feeding stations offering seeds, corn and wheat are available. It is especially possible to see backyard Egyptian geese in urban and suburban areas where feral populations are strong and used to human contact.
These birds are not endangered, and in fact there is legal hunting of Egyptian geese in Africa, though not many are hunted because the meat is not considered especially appetizing. Because these birds feed on grain, however, they can be considered an agricultural pest and are occasionally shot or poisoned illegally by farmers attempting to protect their crops.