Egyptian Goose

The Egyptian Goose is an exotic species in North America that is native to sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the family Anatidae and is related to other Ducks, Swans, and Geese. These birds are natively found throughout most of Africa, with the exception of the purely arid regions of the Sahara Desert. They have historically been richly recorded in Ancient Egyptian iconography, solely because they were considered to be sacred in these archaic times.

About Egyptian Geese

Although these birds are historically permanent residents of their habitats, feral populations are widespread throughout Europe and North America. While the details of how exactly these birds ended up in continents thousands of miles away are unclear, it is presumed by scientists and historians alike that trade networks that emerged during the colonial eras viewed these colorful birds as commodities. As decades turned into centuries, many birds that had escaped from captivity began to adapt to their new environments. They began breeding and are now in Europe and North America more frequently.

Today, these birds are considered to be pests due to their willingness to eat agricultural crops in the Old and New World. Very little information about the behaviors and habits of these birds in Europe and North America exists, with most data coming from studies that were conducted in their natural habitats. Despite the lack of ecological data and their environmental impacts present on them, they continue to have a mixed assortment of views by the scientific communities present in the West. Today, we will learn a little more about these birds.

● Egyptian Goose Photos, Color Pattern, Song
● Egyptian Goose Size, Eating Behaviour, Habitat
● Egyptian Goose Range and Migration, Nesting


Egyptian Goose Color Pattern

These birds are not sexually dimorphic in appearance and both sexes look similar in plumage. Adults are generally grayish-tan overall with a distinctive brown mask around the eye and a small brown patch on the breast. However, there may be regional variations in the ratio between tan and gray for the birds. Their main and rear flight feathers and their rump is completely black. While their secondary flight feathers are an iridescent green. The upper wing and underwing coverts are white, and they are clearly visible while they are in flight. They have pink feet and legs, along with their distinctive pink bill which stands out with their orange eyes. Although not sexually dimorphic, the feet of the females are slightly less vivid during the breeding seasons.

Immature birds lack the brown eye patch and the brown breast patch that is characteristic of adults. They do not develop them until they are 3–5 months old. Their upper wing is sooty in color but may also be a lighter gray. In their native African habitat, you may confuse them with South African Shelducks but are otherwise unmistakable in North America.

Description and Identification

These birds are quite easy to identify due to their vibrant colors. Their long necks, pink legs, bills, and brown eye patches are the easiest identifiers. One can make out their features even from a distance. Closely related species also lack the brown patch on the middle of their chest. Another way to identify them is through their calls. Keep your ears out for the raspy hiss of males or the crackling sound of females. Although they are not particularly vocal birds, they make a lot of noise when they are under stress or feeling aggressive.

Egyptian Goose Song

The calls of these birds exhibit sexual dimorphism and differ significantly between males and females. Although both sexes hiss and honk when they are in danger. The primary call these males make is a hoarse hissing note. While the primary call of females is a coarse, strident “hur-hur-hur”. They seem to have 3 basic call types: the snarl, grunt, and hiss. The snarl is a low grating, a hissing note of variable length that is exclusive to males. You can frequently hear them during displays with females in the breeding seasons. The grunt is a grating honk of variable length that only females make. The last type of call is a hiss, a long and quiet vocalization that they make at high alarm and most frequently near their nests or their young. This call seems to be the most similar to the hiss of other Goose species. Although both sexes share this call, it differs in pitch and volume between them.

Egyptian Goose Size

Egyptian Geese are typically between 24–28 inches in length with a wingspan of 52–60 inches. They generally weigh around 52–82 ounces. They are sexually dimorphic in proportions and males are typically larger and heavier than females. Their necks are long and slightly curved while their heads are relatively small. Their short beaks and curved necks give them a swan-like silhouette. They have short legs, medium to long tail feathers, and a round, stout body that gives them a distinctly proportionate appearance.

Egyptian Goose Behavior

These birds are equally comfortable on land and water. They walk well and often perch in trees and on man-made objects like roofs, docks, and poles. They rest on land more frequently than water. Egyptian Geese are comfortable swimmers that may submerge their necks underwater while foraging, although they don’t dive. These adaptable birds are also strong and flexible fliers, generally landing like other waterfowl but also being easily capable of landing on water and land. They can also carefully manoeuvre their movements to be able to fly above water under low obstacles and not collide with either.

These Geese preen daily and spend almost a fifth of their total time in preening. This is typically followed by excessive wing and body shakes. They also sleep on both land and water while they sleep and roost on abiotic perches and the rooves of manmade structures. The species of these birds that live in North American spend nearly a third of their day resting. While African populations where the birds only spend a tenth of their days resting. Egyptian Geese are highly aggressive and often usurp the nests of other species like Black Sparrowhawks. The presence of these geese has had a particularly negative impact on the productivity of many different bird species. They also confrontdifferent animals like squirrels, domestic cats, and Canada Geese. However, aggressive behavior seems to be limited to other species as it has been observed to be minimal towards other waterfowl. They are quite territorial during the breeding seasons. Breeding males are particularly aggressive against each other. Though they resolve most conflicts through communicative interactions, they may frequently get violent with the two birds biting and striking each other.

Egyptian Goose Diet

These birds are mainly herbivores and feed on the young grass from grasslands, savannahs, or on the grains like wheat from agricultural fields. They also consume soft vegetation like leaves and other plant debris. Many forage away from the water in pastures or agricultural lands. Parts of their diet also include a variety of small insects, terrestrial worms, and amphibians like frogs that live in nearby ponds. They consume animal prey during breeding seasons when they are in need of protein. Goslings are also most likely fed an insect diet for the initial days before switching to plants. Interestingly, adults change their diet depending on the season. They consume crops like corn when they are not molting, and switch to aquatic plants when they are molting.

Egyptian Goose Habitat

Egyptian Geese mainly favor wetlands like dams, rivers, ephemeral pans, lakes, estuaries, offshore islands, reservoirs, marshes, sewage works, and lake ponds. They try to avoid densely wooded areas but you can also find them in meadows, grasslands, and agricultural fields. Although they prefer inland freshwater and brackish wetlands, they may very occasionally enter the sea to forage along shorelines in some areas. Populations outside Africa use alder-willow swampy woodlands and meadows. They typically occur below 13,000 feet in elevation.

Range and Migration

You can find these birds throughout Africa and are present in every country except for the regions in and around the Sahara Desert. Their populations in Europe are primarily in the United Kingdom, but you can find them in Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, and Italy. In contrast, their populations in North America live mainly around Florida, Texas, and California. Small populations occur in several other states with relatively warm climates and at lower elevations. They are short to medium distant migrants and typically seem to travel in response to changing food sources in different areas, but may also prefer to maintain the semi-arid habitats that they are comfortable in.

Egyptian Goose Lifecycle

Males are aggressive during mating, with them performing a noisy and elaborate courtship display and emitting loud, honking noises. Though they are reserved animals, they are the opposite during breeding seasons. After a male pairs with a female, copulation occurs, and the female lays 5–12 eggs in a brood. Both parents incubate the eggs and lasts for approximately 28–30 days. After the eggs hatch, the father continues to protect them while the mother guides them and keeps them close to her. They generally finish fledging after 70 days and reach the age of reproductive maturity after 2 years. The oldest Egyptian Goose lived for 14 years.


It is unclear which member of the pair makes the final selection of the nest site, but the location is typically near water for safety and near grasslands for feeding. Both parents construct the nest out of feathers and vegetation on dense vegetation, holes, or simply on the ground. Sometimes, pairs find deserted nests of other larger bird species that may be located in trees or on high ledges.

Anatomy of an Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Geese have long necks, long pink legs, a pink bill, and a brown eye patch that encircles each eye. The proportions of their bodies are such that they are bilaterally symmetric, meaning that they can be divided into two mirror-image halves along two planes: vertical and horizontal. They are also capable of metabolically generating heat to regulate body temperature independently of the surrounding temperature.

Final Thoughts

Egyptian Geese live in rather remote locations, and thus are relatively free from hunters. However, their eating habits have led to a number of farmers shooting them if their crops are ravaged by these grain-eating birds. Farmers have been known to complain about them throughout Europe, North America, and their native sub-Saharan Africa. Sometimes groups of Geese graze on young, sprouting plants and damage the resulting harvest significantly. Due to such reasons, they have been labeled as crop pests and some areas embark on controlling their populations. However, they also control pest populations in and around lakes and fields, making them useful in fields that do not grow grains.

They are the most widely distributed member of their family in Africa and their conservation status labels them under Least Concern. As a result of the increased availability of water in South Africa, their numbers have gone up in the past few decades. However, their numbers are largely underreported outside of Africa and there is insufficient data on their populations. They often have a negative impact on native bird species, but their impacts are not fully studied or understood. Their story is a strange one, and they are often treated either like exotic birds or like misfits outside of their native lands. One can only hope that as time goes on, we learn more about these birds and how to fully integrate them into their newer environments.


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Bird Houses ForEgyptian Geese

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