|Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptica)|
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.