Wild South Florida — Naturally Wild
 
shop the mall
 
The Ultimate Guide to the Outdoors and Environment in Broward, Collier, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.
   
Almanac Places to Visit
   
 
 
     
Egyptian Goose
egyptian goose
Egyptian goose, photographd at Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach, Palm Beach County In December 2014.
egyptian goose
 

This bird is a long way from home. The native range for the Egyptian goose, Alopochen aegyptiaca, is Sub-Saharan Africa, the Nile Valley and parts of the Middle East, but has spread to various corners of the world, including South Florida, with a little help from its human friends.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports Egyptian Geese have been spotted in nine counties, including Broward and Miami-Dade, but it says there is no confirmation that the bird is breeding in the wild anywhere other than Pinellas and Hillsborough. However, a Martin County resident, D. Greg Braun, reported an Egyptian goose nesting pair on a mangrove island in the Indian River Lagoon a decade ago.

And we have seen these birds in Palm Beach County near the Boynton Beach Mall and in Wakodahatchee Wetlands west of Delray Beach. Neither Palm Beach or Martin are on the FWC's list of counties where the Egyptian goose has taken up residence. It's believed that individuals spotted are either escapees from captivity, or introduced deliberately into the wild.

Despite the name, the Egyptian Goose is not really a goose, but rather a shelduck — a cross between a goose and a duck. They are mostly vegetarian — seeds, leaves and berries — but bugs and small animals are also part of their diet. They are believed to mate for life, and travel in flocks made up of small family groups. FWC says it doesn't know whether the population is increasing, and the bird's impact on native species is not known.

In the wild, the Egyptian goose is a resident of savannas, grasslands, lakes, ponds and bogs. They are mostly brown, with chestnut brown eye patches and a large patch on the chest. Their wings are a darker brown, their bodies and neck and lighter shades. They have long necks and long pink legs.

 
 
egyptian goose  

Males and females are identical, although males tend to be slightly larger. Juveniles lack the eye and chest patches.

The ancient Egyptians considered the species sacred; Greeks and Romans domesticated it. Egyptian geese were imported into Great Britain in the 18th century, and since have established a firm foothold in the country.

Egyptian geese are finding their way into the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

 
egyptian goose
 

When did the species make its way across the Atlantic? Unclear, but the FWC says it's been present in Florida since the 1960s. We've seen reports of them in California, Illinois, New Jersey and Texas.

They nest in variety of places, in trees, on buildings and ledges and on the ground. Females lay five to eight eggs, which take about four weeks to incubate. The young shelducks fledge about three months later. Both parents take part in rearing the offspring. The young can remain with their parents for a few weeks after that.

This is the hobby's version of inside baseball, but some birding organizations don't recognize spotting an Egyptian goose in the U.S. for purposes of checking it off one's lifetime list, because it is nonnative. Instead, you've got to travel about 6,500 miles and see one in its native range in order to get credit. Egyptian geese are members of Anatidae, the family of ducks, geese and swans.

 
 
Photographs by David Sedore
         
More Links for Egyptian Goose Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology Audubon Society National Geographic
         
Unless otherwise stated, all photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without their express permission.