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What is an Egyptian Goose?

By Jacob Queen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Egyptian goose is an African water bird and a member of the anatidae family, which also comprises other species of ducks, swans and geese. They are about 26 inches long (68 cm), with a wingspan of 56 inches (142 cm) and a weight of about 4.5 pounds (2 kgs). The primary color is chestnut with brown patches over the eyes and a black tail. Their feet, legs and bills are all pink. In ancient times, the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks all kept domesticated Egyptian geese as a source of food.

These birds are native to Africa, but due to domestication, people transported them to other parts of the world at various times in history. In some areas where this happened, such as Great Britain, feral populations, which still survive, developed. They prefer to live in places near water and are often found in areas along the Nile River as well as on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Egyptian goose is known to be very comfortable on land, and it doesn’t spend as much time swimming as some other waterfowl.

Egyptian geese are omnivorous, eating plant foods like grass and seeds along with insects and worms. During food shortages, they sometimes move inland and take advantage of crops on human farmlands. When this happens, they can take a serious financial toll.

The temperament of the Egyptian goose has been described as pugnacious or combative. They generally tend to fight each other quite aggressively and are often especially prone to this behavior during breeding season. They also usually dislike other kinds of birds and will normally attack them with very little provocation. The Egyptian goose can sometimes show this kind of aggression towards people as well, especially when breeding or defending their nests.

Males are slightly larger than females, but they look basically identical. They form a pair bond, and their nesting activities are somewhat variable. Sometimes they will take advantage of nests abandoned by other birds, and sometimes they build their own nests. The location for a nest can be anywhere from the side of a cliff to a tree stump or a burrow. They normally lay six or seven eggs, and they incubate for about 30 days, with the female handling the incubation duties.

After hatching, the chicks generally become independent within 70 days. They reach sexual maturity at around 2 years of age, and they normally live approximately seven years. The Egyptian goose population is relatively strong, and they aren’t considered an endangered species.

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Discussion Comments
By anon276088 — On Jun 21, 2012

Aggressive to other birds with little provocation? Not in my backyard; they get along fine with the other species of ducks and waterbirds on our lake. I have never seen them attack any of the other birds.

By anon155346 — On Feb 23, 2011

I live in South Florida and we have about eight pairs of Egyptian Geese on our golf course. One of the pair have about 10 just hatched young. One other pair have three young ones about four months old now, the father is very mean to one of the three. Is there any books out there that talk about the behavior of the adults and the young?

By OceanSwimmer — On Oct 19, 2010

The Egyptian Goose is said to have been sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. Artwork has been found from that time period that suggests that the Egyptian Goose was actually domesticated.

The lifespan of this goose in the wild is not yet determined. However, there was an Egyptian Goose in the Woodland Park Zoo lived 14 years.

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