Egyptian geese will not populate densely wooded areas, though they can be found in meadows, grasslands, and agricultural fields. Most of their time is spent in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. They can be found as high as 4000 m. (Jensen, et al., 2002; McLachlan and Liversidge, 1940; VanPerlo, 1999)
- Terrestrial Biomes
- savanna or grassland
- Aquatic Biomes
- lakes and ponds
- rivers and streams
- Range elevation
- 4000 (high) m
- 13123.36 (high) ft
Egyptian geese have long necks, long pink legs, a pink bill and brown eye patches encircling each eye. They are distinguished from closely related species by a brown patch in the middle of the chest. The upper wings and the head are brown, while the rest of the body is light brown. The underside of the wings is white and green. Juveniles do not have the brown eye patches or a patch on the chest.
Egyptian geese are anywhere from 63 to 73 cm in height and they can weigh from 1.5 to 2.3 kg. The wingspan is fairly large, measuring 38 cm, on average.
Distinguishing between males and females can be a challenge. The females are smaller than the males, but otherwise both sexes look alike. One way to tell them apart is by their sound. Males make a raspy hiss, while females produce a cackling sound. Although they are not terribly vocal, when they are feeling aggressive or stressed they will make a great deal of noise. (Jensen, et al., 2002; Newman, 1983; Sclater, 1906; VanPerlo, 1999)
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- male larger
- Range mass
- 1500 to 2250 g
- 52.86 to 79.30 oz
- Range length
- 73 to 63 cm
- 28.74 to 24.80 in
- Range wingspan
- 35 to 40 cm
- 13.78 to 15.75 in
- Average wingspan
- 38 cm
- 14.96 in
The males are quite aggressive when mating. Each male performs a noisy and elaborate courtship display, emitting unusually loud honking noises. Under normal circumstances, Egyptian geese are reserved, quiet animals, but during mating season they are just the opposite. A male will act in this manner in order to attract a female. Since Egyptian geese are monogamous, one male and one female nest alone in dense vegetation, holes, or simply on the ground. (Newman, 1983; Priest, 1929)
- Mating System
Egyptian geese breed in the spring or at the end of the dry season (The breeding season is anywhere from July to March, depending on the area). At the age of two, Alopochen aeygptiacus reach sexual maturity. Nest locations are usually near water for safety and near grassland for feeding; the nests are made out of feathers and vegetation and are located in dense vegetation, holes, or simply on the ground. Pairs sometimes find nests on the ground or use deserted nests of other larger bird species (such as Buteo buteo (common buzzard) or Pica pica (black-billed magpie)), which can be located in trees or on high ledges. The male goose fertilizes the female internally. Five to twelve eggs are laid, and they are incubated for 28 to 30 days. The young fledge in 70 days. (Lensink, 1998; Priest, 1929; VanPerlo, 1999)
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding interval
- Egyptian Geese breed just once each year.
- Breeding season
- The majority breed in the spring or at the end of the dry season. The breeding season is anywhere from July to March, depending on the area.
- Range eggs per season
- 5 to 12
- Range time to hatching
- 28 to 30 days
- Average fledging age
- 70 days
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 2 years
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 2 years
Incubation lasts from 28 to 30 days and is done by both parents. The father protects the eggs and chicks, while the mother guides them and keeps them close to her. The chicks are precocial. (Priest, 1929; VanPerlo, 1999)
- Parental Investment
- no parental involvement
The lifespan of Alopochen aegyptiacus in the wild has not been documented. At the Woodland Park Zoo, an Egyptian goose lived for fourteen years. (Jensen, et al., 2002)
- Range lifespan
- 14 (high) years
- Range lifespan
These geese stay together in small flocks throughout the year, mainly for protection. Egyptian geese pair up during the breeding season, but otherwise they remain in their flocks. Although they are mainly sedentary, they move to another body of water if a period of drought occurs in their current home range. They may wander from the water during the day in search of food in either the grasslands or agricultural fields. They always return to the water at night. (VanPerlo, 1999)
Communication and Perception
Distinguishing between male and female Egyptian geese can be a challenge. One way to tell them apart is by their sound. Males make a raspy hiss, while females produce a cackling sound. Although they are not terribly vocal, when they are feeling aggressive or stressed they will make a great deal of noise.
Egyptian geese are mainly herbivores, they eat young grass from grasslands or savannahs, grains (particularly wheat) from agricultural fields, and soft vegetation like leaves and other detritus. Many tend to forage away from the water in pastures or arable land. Part of their diet includes a wide variety of small insects, terrestrial worms and frogs that live in nearby ponds. (Mangnall and Crowe, 2002; VanPerlo, 1999)
- Animal Foods
- terrestrial worms
- Plant Foods
- seeds, grains, and nuts
Egyptian geese swim, travel and feed in flocks. Living in flocks may be a defense against predators since there are more individuals present to look out for predators and give a warning.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Alopochen aegyptiacus are not hunted by many people because they live in such remote locations, but some farmers may shoot at them to scare them away from their agricultural fields. Egyptian Geese may also aid in decreasing pest populations around lakes or fields. (Mangnall and Crowe, 2002)
- Positive Impacts
- controls pest population
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
Due to the large numbers of Egyptian geese in southern Africa, farmers have been known to complain about attacks on their crops. Groups of geese graze on young, sprouting plants, causing great damage to the farmer's crops. (Jensen, et al., 2002; Mangnall and Crowe, 2002)
- Negative Impacts
- crop pest
As the most widely distributed member of their family in Africa, Egyptian geese seem to be managing quite well. Due to the increased availability of water in Southern Africa, numbers have gone up in the past few years. Egyptian geese are listed as Appendix III by CITES. (Jensen, et al., 2002; Mangnall and Crowe, 2002)
Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Anna Tattan (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
helps break down and decompose dead plants and/or animals
a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
- active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
remains in the same area
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
- soil aeration
digs and breaks up soil so air and water can get in
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
Jensen, D., B. Bohmke, M. Bluewater, J. Bierlein. 2002. "Animal Fact Sheets - Egyptian Goose" (On-line). Woodland Park Zoo. Accessed March 30, 2004 at http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/savana/egoose.htm.
Lensink, R. 1998. Temporal and spatial expansion of the Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus in The Netherlands. Journal of Biogeography, 1/25: 251-263.
Mangnall, M., T. Crowe. 2002. Population dynamics and the physical and financial impacts to cereal crops of the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus on the Agulhas Plain, Western Cape, South Africa. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 90(3): 231-246.
McLachlan, G., R. Liversidge. 1940. Roberts Birds of South Africa. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.
Newman, K. 1983. Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. South Africa: Southern Books.
Petri, S. 1998. Molt patterns of nonbreeding white-faced whistling-ducks in South Africa. The Auk, 115(3): 774-780.
Priest, C. 1929. A Guide to the Birds of Southern Rhodesia and a Record of Their Nesting Habits. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.
Prozesky, O. 1970. A Field Guide to the Birds of Southern Africa. Great Britain: Harper Collins.
Sclater, W. 1906. The Birds of South Africa. London: R.H. Porter.
VanPerlo, B. 1999. Birds of South Africa. Italy: Harper Collins.