Regarded as being sacred by early Egyptians, this native goose of the African continent was introduced into Europe and elsewhere as an ornamental wildfowl species in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century.
Family:Ducks, geese and swans
63cm to 73cm
110cm to 130cm
1.5kg to 2.25kg
Whilst the adult male and female are similar in colour and patternation the male is generally larger with a fatter neck. The underparts are mainly pale tan or greyish white with a small brown patch at the centre of the lower breast. The back and upperparts are a mixture of brown, black, orange and white with a large white wing patch evident across the coverts on the upper and lower wing, contrasted with the very dark primary and secondary flight feathers. The head and top of the nape are a mid grey with the face and throat a paler grey. Half way down the neck there is often a dark brown band below which the grey colour morphs into a softer light buff, particularly on the underside. Around both eyes there is a large prominent chocolate brown patch. The top mandible of the bill is pink whilst the underside of the lower mandible is black. The eyes are a yellow or orange and the long legs and webbed feet are pink. Juveniles have a dark coloured upper wing area and lack both the brown eye patches and brown chest patch.
Known as being fairly aggressive and quarrelsome the males can be noisy and raucous calling in what is often described as a low, grating snarl. Females are restricted to a typical gooselike honking or cackle and both birds commonly hiss loudly when alarmed or threatened.
Egyptian Goose flight call
Jorge Leitão, XC575580. Accessible at www.xeno-canto.org/575580.
Egyptian Goose in flight
Egyptian geese spend many hours simply grazing on grasses and seeds but will also take grain crops and aquatic plants including pond weed.
A pair of Egyptian Geese
A native species of sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Egypt south of the Nile Valley, the Egyptian goose has also been introduced into south western Europe, including the British Isles, the Arabian Peninsula and the USA. Many of these ‘foreign’ populations have expanded from original escapees but have now set up permanent residence in a number of North American states including Texas, Florida, Arkansas and southern California. They are generally non migratory.
Egyptian Goose taking off from the water
Preferring wetland areas these geese are often seen in pairs or small family groups and are immediately identifiable by the large brown eye patches and bold white wing areas. In the breeding season they may gather in large groups of around fifty birds. During the morning, evening and around midday adult birds can normally be seen grazing on grasses and seeds and although they are fully proficient swimmers they spend the majority of their time on land.
Egyptian Goose with chicks
The breeding season varies upon location but within Africa will vary from year- round to periods towards the end of the dry season which again will vary from country to country and region to region. Elsewhere eggs are normally produced in late spring and will consist of one brood of between 5 – 12 creamy white eggs which are incubated by both parents for around thirty days. Fledging occurs from sixty to seventy five days from hatching. The nests are usually built using grasses, reeds and leaves, lined with down and located at ground level. Occasionally pairs will take over abandoned nests from other large bird species. Parents can be extremely brutal towards neighbouring nestlings of their own species when feeding, foraging or caring for their own young, even to go so far as to killing them.
Pair of Egyptian Geese with their chicks
Egyptian Goose with young
The lifespan of Egyptian geese in the wild is between fifteen to twenty years.
The Eurasian wigeon is a medium dabbling duck that commonly breeds across northern Europe, and winters further south, including in the British Isles and occasionally in North America. Rare vagrant breeding pairs can be found in the United States, and small breeding grounds have also been established in northern England and Scotland.
This large bird arrives on our shores from Iceland to overwinter in late September, returning northwards to breed from mid March onwards.
Larger than the Common Scoter this elegant European diving duck spends much of its time at sea and is often seen in company with mixed flocks resting on the water’s surface far out from land.
Tundra Bean Goose
The tundra bean goose is the most common species of bean goose, and breeds on Russian tundra landscapes. Winters are spent grazing on open fields, marshes and agricultural land in western and central Europe and East Asia.
The Tufted Duck is the UK’s most common diving duck and a familiar sight on lakes and ponds across the country. Known for their long, hair-like tufts, these small waterfowl are fairly easy to identify but may be confused with other ducks from the Aythya genus.
Fast and erratic in flight, the Teal is the United Kingdom’s smallest wildfowl species. Despite occurring year-round in low numbers, birdwatchers are most likely to spot these tiny ducks in the winter when large numbers arrive from abroad.
One of seven American goose species, the Snow Goose is a noisy migrant that visits the Lower 48 states each winter. These beautiful birds have increased dramatically since the second half of the 20th century.
Despite being only a rare winter visitor to the British Isles, the Smew is one of the countrys most unmistakable and easily identified duck species. Breeding across Central Asia and returning to Western Europe during winter months, smews begin to turn up on inland lakes as well as in coastal regions from November onwards.
One look at the bill of a northern shoveler should be enough to provide you with an accurate species identification: their flattened shovel-like bills are unique among waterfowl and allow them to feed on tiny plankton by sweeping their heads across the water’s surface.
A large colourful duck, often found in coastal areas, the shelduck, is an established breeding waterbird in the UK. British wetlands are also a major wintering ground for the species, hosting up to 30 percent of Europe’s shelduck population each autumn.
A medium-sized diving duck, the greater scaup is known simply as the scaup in Europe, and locally as the ‘bluebill’ in North America. Only a handful of scaup breed in the UK, making it the rarest breeding duck in the British Isles.
A striking and fascinating little diving duck with an unusual courtship display, the Ruddy Duck is a widespread migrant in North America.
During the winter the population of this rare resident breeding duck increases by 55 times to that of the summer, with the influx of many thousands of others overwintering, having arrived from Russia and Eastern Europe.
Although the pink-footed goose does not breed in Britain, it is a common winter visitor, with over half a million migrating individuals arriving each autumn from breeding grounds in Iceland, Greenland and Norway’s Svalbard peninsula.
One of the world’s heaviest flying birds, and one of the most beautiful too, the Mute Swan is a majestic waterfowl with a mean reputation.
A native of Japan and China, the mandarin duck was first introduced into the UK in the 18th century and started populations in the wild in the 1930’s following escapes from captivity. The UK population is estimated to be in the region of 7,000 birds.
Instantly recognizable, the Mallard is a medium-sized dabbling duck that is familiar to people all over the world. These adaptable waterfowl are the ancestor of the modern domestic duck and are found everywhere from remote wilderness lakes to suburban backyards.
The Greylag goose is the largest grey goose from the Anser genus of the Anatidae family of waterbirds. A stout, robust and heavyweight bird, the Greylag goose is the closest wild relative and ancestor to the domestic goose. Greylag geese are distributed across much of Europe and Asia, extending into eastern Russia and China. Most populations migrate, but some are sedentary, including in much of Northern Europe.
Widespread throughout the northern hemisphere, the common merganser is the largest of the saw billed fish eating ducks. There are three sub-species with the Eurasian variant frequently known as the Goosander.
The Gargeney is a dabbling duck, slightly smaller than a mallard, and considered a rare breeder in the UK, with just over 100 pairs recorded. A fully migratory species, all garganeys spend winters in southern Africa, leaving breeding grounds as early as July, so your window for spotting one on British waters is only a very brief one.
The Gadwall is a widely distributed dabbling duck of the Anatidae family that breeds in the Northern Hemisphere. This hardy duck breeds as far north as Siberia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and coastal Alaska and is found across both the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
The common eider (Somateria mollissima) is a large and widespread sea duck that is perhaps best known for its valuable insulating down feathers.
The word scoter is often used to define northern sea ducks. There are six different species of scoter, all of which are monotypic and three of which are confined to North America. The Common Scoter like the Velvet Scoter can only be found in Europe and Asia whilst the Stejneger’s Scoter is a native of Asia alone.
This large bodied goose is both adaptable and social having been imported into Europe and Asia from its native lands in North America. A monogamous bird which pairs for life, it is considered a pest in some areas as being both messy and aggressive, particularly within urban environments.
A small goose species with a short, stubby bill, the brent goose (or brant, as it is known in North America), breeds in the high Arctic regions of Canada, Greenland, Siberian Russia and northern Europe’s Arctic islands. Brant spend winters along North America’s Pacific coast, part of the east coast of the US, and in north-western Europe, from the British Isles to Denmark.
Winter visitors to the UK, formerly considered a full species, but now considered a sub-species of the Tundra Swan.
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