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Overview

Distribution

Alopochen aegyptiaca is widely distributed throughout its native range, Africa, and southern Europe. It is especially common in southern Africa, below the Sahara and in the Nile Valley. In the 18th century, Alopochen aegyptiaca was introduced into Great Britain, and a substantial population still thrives there today. Currently Alopochen aegyptiaca is colonizing the Netherlands, Belgium, and Germany.

Biogeographic Regions: palearctic (Introduced , Native ); ethiopian (Native )

  • Lensink, R. 1998. Temporal and spatial expansion of the Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus in The Netherlands. Journal of Biogeography, 1/25: 251-263.
  • VanPerlo, B. 1999. Birds of South Africa. Italy: Harper Collins.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

Africa south of the Sahara and Nile Valley.
  • Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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Physical Description

Morphology

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.

Range mass: 1500 to 2250 g.

Range length: 73 to 63 cm.

Range wingspan: 35 to 40 cm.

Average wingspan: 38 cm.

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike; male larger

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

  • Newman, K. 1983. Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. South Africa: Southern Books.
  • Sclater, W. 1906. The Birds of South Africa. London: R.H. Porter.
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Ecology

Habitat

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.

Range elevation: 4000 (high) m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; rivers and streams

Wetlands: marsh ; swamp ; bog

Other Habitat Features: agricultural ; riparian

  • 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.
  • McLachlan, G., R. Liversidge. 1940. Roberts Birds of South Africa. Cape Town: John Voelcker Bird Book Fund.
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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour This species is largely sedentary over much of its range (del Hoyo et al. 1992), although it may make seasonal nomadic or dispersive movements related to water availability (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a). It also undertakes annual post-breeding moult migrations to favoured waters (Kear 2005a). The timing of the breeding season in this solitary nester varies geographically, with pairs in some regions nesting in the spring or at the end of the dry season (del Hoyo et al. 1992), whereas nesting in other areas, such as southern Africa, peaks in the middle of winter and does not necessarily correspond with local rainfall patterns (G. Cumming in litt. 2011). Outside of the breeding season the species may occur in flocks consisting of hundreds or thousands of individuals (e.g. during moult), although it is most common in pairs or small groups (Kear 2005a). It forages diurnally (Kear 2005a), mostly in the morning and evening (Johnsgard 1978). Habitat The species inhabits a wide range of freshwater wetlands in open country from sea level up to 4,000 m (Ethiopia) (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992), including reservoirs, dams, pans, lakes, large ponds, rivers, marshes, sewage works, estuaries and offshore islands (Kear 2005a) (although it is generally absent from coastal regions) (Brown et al. 1982). It shows a preference for water-bodies with open shorelines and rich plant growth in close proximity to meadows, grassland and arable land for grazing (del Hoyo et al. 1992), generally avoiding densely forested areas (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet Its diet consists predominantly of vegetable matter such as the seeds, leaves and stems of grasses and other terrestrial plants, crop shoots (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a) (e.g. maize, wheat, oats, lucerne, groundnuts and barley) (Kear 2005a), potato tubers (del Hoyo et al. 1992), algae and aquatic weeds (Kear 2005a), as well as some animal matter (worms, locusts (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and termite alates (Kear 2005a)). Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression (Brown et al. 1982) in plant matter (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992) usually placed not far from water (Madge and Burn 1988). Nest sites are highly variable (Madge and Burn 1988) but include dense vegetation on the ground (Brown et al. 1982, Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a), reedy vegetation near water, the ground under bushes or trees (Kear 2005a), burrows in embankments (Brown et al. 1982), holes and cavities in trees (del Hoyo et al. 1992), cliff ledges and rural buildings, caves (Kear 2005a), and the abandoned nests of other large bird species (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Kear 2005a) up to 60 m above the ground (Brown et al. 1982).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Trophic Strategy

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.

Animal Foods: amphibians; insects; terrestrial worms

Plant Foods: leaves; seeds, grains, and nuts

Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Granivore )

  • 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.
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Associations

Since these geese tend to eat much of their food on land, they help disperse seeds, break up soil and decompose dead plants.

Ecosystem Impact: disperses seeds; biodegradation ; soil aeration

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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.

Predators include: lions (Panthera leo), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), hyenas (subfamily Hyaenidae), crocodiles (genus Crocodylus) and vultures (family Accipitridae).

Known Predators:

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Known predators

Alopochen aegyptiacus is prey of:
Crocodylidae
Accipitridae
Panthera leo
Acinonyx jubatus
Hyaeninae

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Known prey organisms

Alopochen aegyptiacus preys on:
Annelida
Insecta
Amphibia

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

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.

The males are quite aggressive when mating. Each male performs a noisy and elaborate courtship display, emitting unusually loud honking noises.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Expectancy

The lifespan of Alopochen aegyptiacus in the wild has not been documented. At the Woodland Park Zoo, an Egyptian goose lived for fourteen years.

Range lifespan

Status: captivity:
14 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 25.5 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

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.

Mating System: monogamous

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.

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.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization ; oviparous

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.

Parental Investment: no parental involvement; precocial ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Protecting: Male, Female)

  • Lensink, R. 1998. Temporal and spatial expansion of the Egyptian goose Alopochen aegyptiacus in The Netherlands. Journal of Biogeography, 1/25: 251-263.
  • Newman, K. 1983. Newman's Birds of Southern Africa. South Africa: Southern Books.
  • Priest, C. 1929. A Guide to the Birds of Southern Rhodesia and a Record of Their Nesting Habits. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.
  • VanPerlo, B. 1999. Birds of South Africa. Italy: Harper Collins.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

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.

CITES: appendix iii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: no special status

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Cumming, G.

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status in Egypt

Resident breeder.

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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
The species is persecuted by shooting and poisoning in parts of its range (it is regarded as an agricultural pest) (Kear 2005a). Utilisation The species is also hunted for sport (del Hoyo et al. 1992) although not in large numbers (Kear 2005a).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

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.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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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.

Positive Impacts: food ; controls pest population

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Wikipedia

Egyptian goose

The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a member of the duck, goose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley.

Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians, and appeared in much of their artwork. They have been raised for food and extensively bred in parts of Africa since they were domesticated by the ancient Egyptians. Because of their popularity chiefly as ornamental bird, escapes are common and small feral populations have become established in Western Europe.[2][3]

Taxonomy[edit]

The Egyptian goose is believed to be most closely related to the shelducks (genus Tadorna) and their relatives, and is placed with them in the subfamily Tadorninae. It is the only extant member of the genus Alopochen, which also contains closely related prehistoric and recently extinct species. mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data suggest that the relationships of Alopochen to Tadorna need further investigation.[4]

Its generic name is based on Greek ἀλώπηξ ('alopex') + χήν ('chen') = "fox-goose", referring to the colour of its back.

Description[edit]

It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name.[5] It is 63–73 cm long.

The sexes of this species are identical in plumage, and the males average slightly larger. There is a fair amount of variation in plumage tone, with some birds greyer and others browner, but this is not sex- or age-related. A large part of the wings of mature birds is white, but in repose the white is hidden by the wing coverts. When it is aroused, either in alarm or aggression, the white begins to show. In flight or when the wings are fully spread in aggression the white is conspicuous.[6]

The voices and vocalisations of the sexes differ, the male having a hoarse, subdued duck-like quack which seldom sounds unless it is aroused. The male Egyptian goose attracts its mate with an elaborate, noisy courtship display that includes honking, neck stretching and feather displays.[7] The female has a far noisier raucous quack that frequently sounds in aggression and almost incessantly at the slightest disturbance when tending her young.[8]

Distribution[edit]

This species breeds widely in Africa except in deserts and dense forests, and is locally abundant. They are found mostly in the Nile Valley and south of the Sahara. While not breeding, it disperses somewhat, sometimes making longer migrations northwards into arid regions of the Sahel.[6] It has also been introduced elsewhere: Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Germany have self-sustaining populations which are mostly derived from escaped ornamental birds.[2] Escapes have also bred on occasion in other places, such as Florida and New Zealand.[2] The British population dates back to the 18th century, though only formally added to the British list in 1971.[9] In Britain, it is found mainly in East Anglia, in parkland with lakes.[10] It was officially declared a pest in the U.K. in 2009.[11]

Behaviour[edit]

This is a largely terrestrial species, which will also perch readily on trees and buildings. Egyptian geese typically eat seeds, leaves, grasses, and plant stems. Occasionally, they will eat locusts, worms, or other small animals.

Both sexes are aggressively territorial towards their own species when breeding and frequently pursue intruders into the air, attacking them in aerial "dogfights".[8] Neighbouring pairs may even kill another's offspring for their own offsprings' survival as well as for more resources.[12]

This species will nest in a large variety of situations, especially in holes in mature trees in parkland. The female builds the nest from reeds, leaves and grass, and both parents take turns incubating eggs.[7] Egyptian geese usually pair for life. Both the male and female care for the offspring until they are old enough to care for themselves.[12]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Alopochen aegyptiaca". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Braun, D. G. (2004). "First documented nesting in the wild of Egyptian Geese in Florida". Florida Field Naturalist 32 (4): 138–143. 
  3. ^ Dohner, Janet V. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds. Yale University Press. ISBN 030013813X. 
  4. ^ Sraml, M.; Christidis, L.; Easteal, S.; Horn, P. & Collet, C. (1996): Molecular Relationships Within Australasian Waterfowl (Anseriformes). Australian Journal of Zoology 44(1): 47-58. doi:10.1071/ZO9960047
  5. ^ http://www.goose.org/englisch/egyptian-goose.html
  6. ^ a b Madge, Steve; Burn, Hilary (1988). Waterfowl: An Identification Guide to the Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 170–171. ISBN 0-395-46727-6. 
  7. ^ a b "Egyptian Goose Fact Sheet". Lincoln Park Zoo. Archived from the original on 19 Jul 2011. 
  8. ^ a b MacLean, Gordon L., Roberts, Austin; “Roberts Birds of Southern Africa”. Pub. Hyperion Books 1988. ISBN 978-1-85368-037-3
  9. ^ Holloway, Simon (2010). The Historical Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1875-1900. A & C Black. ISBN 9781408128664. 
  10. ^ "Egyptian goose". RSPB. 13 December 2012. Retrieved 28 April 2013. 
  11. ^ McCarthy, Michael (2009-09-30). "Britain's naturalised parrot now officially a pest". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  12. ^ a b "Egyptian Goose". Honolulu Zoo. 
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