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< >  Anser cygnoides - Swan goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Oie cygno´de (French)
Schwanengans (German)
Ansar Cisnal (Spanish)
Ganso-cisne (Spanish)
Cygnopsis cygnoides

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B97, B108, B128.w1, B129
D1, D8

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Northern (True) Geese are generally hardy and easy to manage. They are usually gregarious and many species may be kept in flocks, however they tend to be territorial and aggressive in the breeding season and some may need to be maintained in separate pens. It is often possible to keep small ducks with pairs of geese, unless the individual goose pair is particularly pugnacious. They should always be provided with adequate water for swimming.
  • For a single pair of geese a total pen area of 300m▓ (or 200m▓  for smaller species, e.g. Branta ruficollis - Red-breasted goose), with at least 20% of this area water is suggested, although more water should be provided if possible in a larger pen (D1).
  • Geese are grazers and should have access to good short grass (less than 3 inches, 7.5cm long) for grazing. When grass is scarce, it may be supplemented with greenfood such as cabbage, lettuce etc.; alfalfa pellets have also been used for this purpose. Additional grain and pellets should be given, with a change to breeder pellets in the breeding season, at which time less or no grain may be fed. Breeding success may be decreased if these species are allowed to become too fat and this can be problematic particularly for the species which normally breed in the high Arctic.
  • Goslings may be parent hatched and reared, although being mainly terrestrial they are more vulnerable to predation than are cygnets. Whether parent or hand-reared, goslings should be provided with unlimited grazing and other green food such as chopped lettuce, as well as starter crumbs.
  • Geese species may hybridise with one another, but this is not usually a problem if they are well paired before being mixed with other birds.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B108, B128.w1, B129, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Swan geese are hardy, and may be kept in mixed collections. As with other geese, a good grazing area should be available as well as a water area; they may be best kept in large field.
  • These geese are fairly easily to breed. Open cover for ground nesting should be provided, also a kennel or wigwam. Normally lay April to May.
  • Hybrids with other Anser species have been fertile, and sterile hybrids have been reported with Branta species and with Cygnus olor - Mute swan; has also been reported to hybridise with Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose and Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck.
  • N.B. Swan geese appear to be particularly susceptible to Gizzard Worm Infection (V.w3).

(B29, B30, B94, B97).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: Male T 20.0mm, Female S 18.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 32-3 inches, 81-94cm
Adult weight General 2.85-3.5kg (B1)
Male About 3.5kg (B3); mean 7.7 lbs. (B8)
Female 2.85-3.45kg (B3); mean 6.6 lbs. (B8)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Black, long.
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black.
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Adult Male Reddish orange.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Reddish orange.

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Adult Male Crown (from eyes upwards) and hindneck dark chestnut, narrow white band around bill base, ventral head & neck (throat, sided of head, sides of neck and foreneck) pale fawn.

Upperparts and flanks ashy brown with buff edges to feathers and white line at upper border of flanks. Breast and abdomen pale brown. Ventral region and tail-coverts white.

Tail greyish brown with whitish edge to feathers.

Wing grey brown with dark grey to blackish flight feathers.

Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Upperparts dull grey-brown, feather edges less distinct, no white band at bill edge.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts brown with blackish patch over eyes, pale buff patches on wings and sides of tail, underparts dirty yellow-buff.
Bill: Dark grey with pale tip.
Feet: Dark grey.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins May.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In reedbeds on riverbanks, on grass hillocks in marshy meadows, and on grassy plateaux. Shallow nest of vegetation on the ground, lined with dry grass and down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 5-6 (B1)
Range 5-8 (B1, B8)
Egg Description White. Size: 82 x 56 mm, weight: 145g (B3)

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About 28 days (B1); 28-30 days mean 29 days (B8).

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75-90 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two years old.
Females Two years old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Grazes.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building In scattered pairs or loose groups.
Incubation By female with male defending.
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents.


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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Form smallish flocks. Broods sometimes combine.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong permanent pair bonds.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian, including sedges.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal North-central Asia from south-central Siberia to north China. Winter: north-central and eastern China, Taiwan also but now rare in, Korea and Japan.


Occasional and Accidental

Vagrant to Taiwan, south-east Siberia.



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Varied. Usually close to water in summer, found in mountains, steppes, and floodplains; in winter on drier steppes away from water.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Range and numbers decreased during the twentieth century (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing Vulnerable (W2).
Threats Habitat loss and hunting (B44.9.w1).

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Captive Populations

Common in collections.
Domestic Chinese goose descended from Anser cygnoides.

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