Animal Species:Magpie Goose

The Magpie Goose differs from most waterbirds in having strongly clawed toes that are only partially webbed.

Magpie Goose on grass

PD Munchenberg © Australian Museum

Standard Common Name

Magpie Goose

Identification

The Magpie Goose has a black neck and head, with a characteristic knob on the crown (larger in males), which increases in size with age. The underparts are white, with contrasting black edges on the underwing. The bill, legs and feet are orange. Females are slightly smaller than males.

Size range

71 cm to 92 cm

Distribution

The Magpie Goose is widespread throughout coastal northern and eastern Australia. It can be seen from Fitzroy River, Western Australia, through northern Australia to Rockhampton, Queensland, and has been extending its range into coastal New South Wales to the Clarence River and further south.

Habitat

The Magpie Goose is seen in floodplains and wet grasslands. Some individuals, mostly younger birds, may be seen at quite long distances inland.

Feeding and Diet

Large, noisy flocks of up to a few thousand birds congregate to feed on aquatic vegetation. The Magpie Goose is a specialized feeder with wild rice, Oryza, Paspalum, Panicum and spike-rush, Eleocharis, forming the bulk of its diet.

Mating and reproduction

During the breeding season, Magpie Geese build nests in secluded places, usually close to wetlands. The nest is almost single-handedly constructed by the male. It usually consists of a simple unlined cup placed either in a floating platform of trampled reeds or built in tree-tops. Pairs of geese mate for life, but a male may have two females. Two females may occasionally use the same nest to lay the large, oval, off-white coloured eggs. All adults share incubation and care for the young.

  • Breeding Season: February to June
  • Clutch size: Up to 16 eggs for 2 females, but 8 more common

Conservation Status (NSW): Vulnerable species

What does this mean?

Classification

Species:
semipalmata
Genus:
Anseranas
Family:
Anseranatidae
Order:
Anseriformes
Class:
Aves
Subphylum:
Vertebrata
Phylum:
Chordata
Kingdom:
Animalia

What does this mean?

References

  • Pringle, J.D. 1985. The Waterbirds of Australia. Angus and Robertson/National Photographic Index of Australian Wildlife, Sydney.


Ondine Evans , Web Researcher/Editor
Last Updated:

Tags magpie goose, geese, water birds, biby,