Egyptian Goose

African Veldt

Location

In the Zoo

Scientific Information

Scientific Name: Alopochen aegyptiacus
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Alopochen

Size

Male

Female

Height: 27 inches 27 inches
Wingspan: 53-61 inches 53-61 inches
Weight: 3.5-5 pound 3.5-5 pounds
Maturity: 2 years 2 years

Lifestyle and Lifespan

Diet: Herbivorous
Activity Timeframe: Diurnal
Interactivity: Social
Sexual Dimorphism: No
Gestation: 28-30 days
Lifespan in the Wild: 15 years
Lifespan in Captivity: 35 years

Geographic Range

Africa south of the Sahara, the Nile Valley, and southern Israel

Conservation

Status in the Wild: Least Concerned
Threats:

Characteristics

Egyptian geese are part of the family Antidae with duck, geese, and swan. They have long pink legs, pink bill with a black tip and base, and dark yellow eyes. Their most distinctive feature is the bandit's mask. The wing coverts are white with black primaries, green secondaries and brown tertiaries. Belly is paler, mantle darker. The rump, tail and back are black. There is a chestnut patch around the eyes and on the breast and a chestnut ring around the neck. There are two color phases, one with a grayer back.

Species Specifics

The Egyptian goose is the only living species of the genus Alopochen. Females are smaller than males, but otherwise look very similar.

Physical Characteristics

A large portion of their wings are white, but when the wings are folded it is covered by the brown wing coverts. The white shows when they display their wings in aggression, serving as a warning communication.

Ecology

Habitat

Meadows, grasslands, and agricultural fields, sometimes on open plains. Usually near water.

Distribution

This is the only species of Shelduck found north of the equator. They inhabit Africa south of the Sahara, the Nile Valley, and northern Europe. In the 18th century they were introduced into Great Britain, where a population still thrives today. They are currently colonizing Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany.

Diet

Feeds on crop (grains) and young grass.

Ecological Web

Herbivore and primary consumer; they feed on crops and young grass. They can feed on land as well as water.

Activity and Behavior

Activity Pattern

Flocks generally remain close to a body of water, wandering in the day in search of food but returning at night. They will only move to another location if predators become abundant or during periods of drought. They are a wary animal. Can perch and roost in trees, often using the same branch each night.

Behavior

Become very territorial and aggressive when breeding. Will attack intruders and chase them away, and may even kill another's offspring for increased resources and bettering chances for their offspring's survival. They have distinct vocalizations. Males hiss and females make a loud cracking noise. The female has a louder quack that she often sounds off if there is a disturbance while caring for her young.

Social Behavior

They stay together in small flocks year round for protection, and pair up during breeding season. Noisy and often fighting. Call is a loud 'Kak-kak'; hisses when annoyed.

Reproductive Behavior

Breeding can occur year round but the peak breeding season is in the spring or the end of the dry season. Males honk loudly and perform elaborate courtship displays in order to attract a female. As monogamous birds, the male and female go off to nest alone amongst vegetation, in holes, or on the ground. They lay 5-10 eggs at a time, which take 28-30 days to hatch. The rearing of young chicks is taken on by both males and females.

Offspring

5-10 eggs per season

Conservation

Status

Listed as Least Concern by the IUCN

Historical

They have gone regionally extinct in Israel, but otherwise have a large range.

Current Threats

Our Role

How You Can Help

Fascinating Facts

Though they are named 'Egyptian geese' they are not geese but rather shelducks, which are somewhat an intermediate between geese and ducks.

They are considered pests in some regions because they can invade cultivated areas and cause significant damage to crops.

When in danger they usually just walk away, but are able to fly away if necessary

Ancient Egyptians domesticated these birds, considering them to be sacred

References

Grzimek, Bernhard. 1972. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol 7, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, pp. 295, 301.

Perrin & Middleton. 1985. The Encyclopedia of Birds, Facts on File, Inc, New York, p.94.

Tattan, Anna. "Alopochen Aegyptiaca." Animal Diversity Web. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Sept. 2016.

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