The birds are regarded as pests in their native environment in Africa and some are shot because they munch crops, but being grass eaters they are not good to eat. So far there are no reports that the species is a nuisance here.
Synonym(s)Alopochen aegyptiacus Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Alopochen aegyptiacus BirdLife International (2004), Alopochen aegyptiacus Dowsett and Forbes-Watson (1993), Alopochen aegyptiacus Cramp and Simmons (1977-1994)
adult Egyptian Geese, Wroxham Broad (Norfolk, UK), 17th April 2004
In the jargon of the bird world the goose has become a self-sustaining species, in other words no longer needs to rely on escapees from private collections to keep them going in the wild. The Netherlands already has a much larger population than Britain, around 100,000 individuals, even though the first breeding pair was not recorded until the 1960s, and they were thought to be immigrants from Norfolk. Now some are re-crossing the North Sea. This goose is obviously here to stay.
Egyptian Goose at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, South Africa
adult Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 6th April 2007
adult Egyptian Goose, Holkham Park (Norfolk, UK), 6th July 2005
In its introduced range in the UK, the Egyptian goose is listed under Schedule 9 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 with respect to England, Wales and Scotland, which makes it an offence to release this species or allow it to escape into the wild (15).
ReferencesBrown, L. H.; Urban, E. K.; Newman, K. 1982. The birds of Africa vol I. Academic Press, London.
Egyptian Geese, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 20th September 2008, including another (or perhaps the same) pale-headed bird
Johnsgard, P. A. 1978. Ducks, geese and swans of the World. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London.
Egyptian Goose goslings (at least 32 days old), Coxford (Norfolk, UK), 16th April 2004
adult Egyptian Goose, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 24th June 2007
family Egyptian Geese (adult behind three juveniles), Lyng-Easthaugh Fishery (Norfolk, UK), 18th December 2004
adult Egyptian Goose, Whitlingham CP (Norfolk, UK), 9th February 2001
The breeding season of this species varies with location (2) (5), but usually occurs in the spring or at the end of the dry season (5). In South Africa, breeding may occur at any time of year, but is mainly recorded from May to December with a July to October peak (11). The introduced population in the Netherlands breeds from February to August (8).
Egyptian Geese are mainly found south of the Sahara in Africa, along the Nile River Valley, and in southern Israel. They were introduced into England in the 1700’s, and some feral birds can be found in the United States. They are usually found inland, close to wet areas, and can sometimes be found on the open plains.
In fact, according to The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust the county holds over 90 per cent of the national population of some 900 birds. One wonders why the geese are so reluctant to spread from their original stronghold.
Three adults at Zürichhorn on the shore of Lake Zürich, Switzerland
Both sexes are aggressively territorial towards their own species when breeding and frequently pursue intruders into the air, attacking them in aerial "dogfights". Neighbouring pairs may even kill another's offspring for their own offsprings' survival as well as for more resources.
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It soon became a familiar ornamental waterfowl. In Victorian times full-winged freely breeding colonies were established on the lakes of such estates as Blickling, Gunton, Holkham and Kimberley. Yet surprisingly despite an ability to disperse over comparatively large areas it is only in Norfolk a substantial feral population of Egyptians has been maintained.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
The Egyptian goose is widespread in Africa south of the Sahara, particularly in eastern and southern Africa, and also occurs in the Nile Valley into Egypt (2) (3) (5) (6). This species also formerly occurred in Israel until the 1930s and in south-eastern Europe until the early 18th century (3) (5). Introduced populations now occur in Britain (2) (3) (5) (7), Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates (2) (6) (8) (9).
In their tropical African home Egyptian geese frequent rivers, marshes and lakes resorting to a wide range of nesting sites. Cavities and holes in trees and abandoned nests of other birds may be selected; also ledges on cliffs and banks.
With most of my photos you can click on the image to bring up a larger version (and sometimes a less heavily cropped one).
There is a fear that they might out compete or cross breed with native species but again there is no evidence yet that they are doing so. The fact they nest in holes in trees and also rabbit burrows makes them a potential rival to the Shelduck but so far that does not seem to be issue either. This is possibly because the goose needs fresh water and likes lakes, and the Shelduck prefers coastal nesting sites and estuaries.
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.
The Egyptian goose is a widespread and relatively common species, and is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction (6). In some parts of its range it is regarded as an agricultural pest (10) (13) (14) and is shot or poisoned, or sometimes hunted for sport (2) (3) (5) (6), although not in large numbers as its meat is not popular (2) (10).
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. Egyptian geese usually pair for life. Both the male and female care for the offspring until they are old enough to care for themselves.
The generic name is based on Greek ἀλώπηξ (alopex'), "fox", and χήν (chen) "goose", referring to the ruddy colour of its back. The species name aegyptius is from the Latin Aegyptius, "Egyptian".
adult Egyptian Geese with goslings, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 2nd June 2004
With thanks to Wildscreen’s principal supporter: Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi
The sexes of this species are identical in plumage but 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 response 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.
After breeding, they will gather in large molting flocks.
It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name. It is 63–73 cm (25–29 in) long.
adult and gosling Egyptian Geese, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 15th April 2007
The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) is a member of the duck, goose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley.
adult Egyptian Goose, Holkham Park (Norfolk, UK), 1st July 2005
Forty years ago its numbers began to creep up and its breeding area expanded away from the Norfolk Broads to all of Norfolk. Fifteen years ago the population began rising far more rapidly and there are now thought to be 900 breeding pairs in Norfolk alone. London and Berkshire, along the Thames and in gravel pits, are now also strongholds and there is a new colony growing in the East Midlands.