Monday, 12 January 2015

Day 72 - Elegant Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptica)
Hi all today's Day 72 and I have one of my favourite non-native birds. From the picture on the right and the title you'll see they are Egyptian Geese. They have been introduced from Egypt (surprise surprise :-) and that is why they aren't commonly found in England (see below.) The pictures here were taken at Kew Gardens in December where they have quite a number of them.

So, here are the rest of the facts:

  • They are not actually a goose they are a shelduck, a cross between a goose and a duck.
  • They have been around for a long time and were domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians who thought they were sacred.
  • The Romans and the Greeks also kept flocks of these 'geese'.
  • They were introduced to Britain in the 1700's as an ornamental species for the lakes of country gentlemen.
  • Being from Egypt they were more used to warm weather and would breed in January, when introduced to Britain this wasn't a successful time to breed so until recent years its numbers have been very low.
  • It prefers to nest in large holes in trees and that also hasn't always made it easy for it to find breeding sites.
  • In the last 20 years or so warmer winters are thought to have helped its survival rate and there are now breeding pairs in Norfolk, London, Berkshire and the East Midlands.
  • They are mainly terrestrial and will feed day and night sometimes a long way from the water. Adding to this, their diet is mainly seeds, leaves, grass, berries and herbs, but they will also eat locusts, worms, insects and small animals.
  • They do not have a status as they are an introduced species. Their population is around 1,100 breeding pairs in the UK.
  • They have a length of 68cm and a wingspan of 144cm. A male bird weighs around 2.1kg and a female weighs about 1.7kg.
  • The oldest recorded Egyptian Goose was 12 years and 5 months old.
  • It's believed they mate for life and they have a noisy courtship with much honking, displaying and neck stretching and whilst they can be quite bad-tempered in the breeding season, they are quite good parents.
Here's some links if you want to find out more about these lovely birds:


No comments:

Post a Comment