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Egyptian Goose

Alopochen aegyptiaca

Order:
Anseriformes
Family:
Anatidae
Sections
  • Version: 1.0 — Published September 6, 2017
  • C. T. Callaghan, Daniel M. Brooks, and Peter Pyle
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The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

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Figure 1. Distribution of the Egyptian Goose in North America.
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Adult Egyptian Goose.

In North America, the introduced Egyptian Goose is distinctive and easily recognized. Adult plumage is generally grayish-tan with a distinctive brown mask around the eye and a small brown patch on breast.

© Sig Olsen, Florida, United States, 22 January 2017

Native to sub-Saharan Africa, the Egyptian Goose is an exotic species in North America. Their introduction and establishment is not well understood, but the species likely originated from escapees from captive waterfowl collections. The authors of the earliest reports of Egyptian Geese in the wild in North America (Arkhust 1877, Kirkwood 1900) suggested that records were of natural occurrence because birds were exhausted and found on the East Coast. However, these individuals were likely escapees (Baird et al. 1884, American Ornithologists' Union 1901), as Egyptian Geese were commonly held in captive collections, and many were imported during this time (Phillips 1928).

As an exotic species, there is much concern over the potential economic, ecological, and social impacts that the Egyptian Goose may have in North America. The species is invasive in Europe, where it is considered a high-risk species, and management action is recommended (Gyimesi and Lensink 2010). Even in their native range of Africa, they are considered pests due to their willingness to eat farmer’s crops (Mangnall and Crowe 2001, Mangnall and Crowe 2002) and their prevalence on golf courses (Mackay et al. 2014).

In North America, breeding in the wild was first reported in 1967 in California (Renwick 1968), and by the mid-1980s in Florida (Pranty and Ponzo 2014). There are currently significant populations in states of Florida, Texas, and California (Pranty and Garrett 2011, Pranty and Ponzo 2014, Callaghan and Brooks 2016), with smaller populations occurring in several other states (Smith and James 2012, Chesbro 2015). Little is known about the life history of the Egyptian Goose in North America. Citizen science data were used to study Egyptian Goose behavior, habitat selection, and reproduction (Callaghan and Brooks 2016), while other studies have collected reports of reproduction from local birders in Florida (Pranty and Ponzo 2014). The majority of information in this account relies on studies of life history from Africa, with the assumption that many aspects remain the same in North America. In light of this, formal studies that investigate the ecology of the Egyptian Goose and its impacts on the environment are badly needed in North America.

Recommended Citation

Callaghan, C. T., D. M. Brooks, and P. Pyle (2017). Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca), version 1.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bna.egygoo.01