The Egyptian Goose

Alopochen aegyptiaca

Introduction:
The Egyptian Goose is one of the most common bird species in Sub-saharan Africa. It is not actually a goose but actually a duck and is closely related to Shelducks. It is a monotypic species, meaning that it doesn’t have any subspecies and is the only species within its genus. They were once considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians and appear in a lot of their artwork.

Geographical Range:
Their geographical range includes much of Subsaharan Africa. It extends from Southern Africa to North Africa, and from West Africa to the Horn of Africa in the East. They spend the breeding season in the more temperate and tropical climates of Subsaharan Africa, but they do migrate further north towards the Sahel region in Africa. 

There are also well-established non-native populations of Egyptian Geese in Europe and North America. These populations are mostly descendants of captive geese from zoos and private breeders. 

European regions with self-sustaining non-native populations include Great Britain, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and even as far north as Denmark. In the Americas, there are well-established populations in Texas, Florida, and California. And surprisingly this bird has also become a resident on the other side of the world in New Zealand. 

They are a sedentary species that do not migrate. In Southern Africa, they will remain far South even through the cold winter months where temperatures can easily drop below zero every night. 

Natural Habitat:
Their natural habitat consists of African bushveld, marshlands, and wetlands. They are able to survive in almost any biome with the exceptions of arid deserts and dense jungles. As long as they have a dam or wetlands close by, they are able to survive and raise their goslings.

Breeding Behaviour:
They are a monogamous bird species and once a male and female mate, they will stay together for life.

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males and females are sexually dimorphic. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, and have slightly brighter colors. Males also hiss and females honk. 

Description:
While on the ground or roosting the easiest way to identify them is by their reddish-brown eye-patches. They also have a medium-length neck, bright pink legs and feet, a slight grey belly, and white discoloration around their heads and necks.

In-flight they are unmistakable with their white feathers across the covert area and is only visible when their wings are open. 

This species lives for 15-25 years in the wild and can weigh up to 4kgs. They stand tall and are around 60-70cm tall. They have an impressive wingspan of 135-155cm. They are quick flyers and extremely agile for their size.

Diet:
The Egyptian Goose feeds on grasses, stems, berries, seeds, and other plants. Chicks spend much of their time on top of the water and feed mainly on aquatic invertebrates and freshwater plankton. 

Their Predators:
Wildlife Cats, birds of prey, crocodiles, leopards, and other mammalian predators.

Communication:
This is an extremely loud and vocal species and they spend much of their day letting all the other geese know exactly where they are and to well away. Both sexes are extremely territorial and will taunt and defend their branch or home turf and will fly straight towards other Egyptian Geese just to intimidate them and will also attack each any intruders in the air creating spectacular “dogfights” 

Nesting and breeding:
They nest in many different arrangements. Some will take over old nests built by other birds such as the Hammerkop, but mostly this species nests in holes created underneath old trees and roots. The female builds the nest from reeds, leaves, and grasses, and both parents take turns in incubating the eggs. The incubation period of their eggs is around 28 days. 

They lay around 5 -11 eggs and the goslings will grow up very quickly. Fledglings are usually independent after 3 -. 4 months. 

Collective Pronoun: A flock of Egyptian geese is on the ground is called a gaggle, but when in flight they are called a skein, a team, or a wedge of geese. 

Conservation Status:
The Egyptian Goose is classified as a species of least concern on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Robert Wedderburn

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