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< >  Nettapus pulchellus - Green pygmy-goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)









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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Green goose
Green dwarf-goose
Green pygmy goose
Grune Zwergglanzente (German)
Australische Zwergente (German)
Anserelle elegante (French)
Sarcelle pygmée d’Australie (French)
Gansito Australiano (Spanish)
Ganso pigmeo verde (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Duckling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25.

Aviculture references:
B7, B11.33.w1, B29, B94, B139
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:
  • Perching Ducks and "geese" are generally happier maintained fully-flighted if possible, for example in an aviary for the smaller species, or under flight netting.
  • While the larger species in this group are hardy, the smaller species may be more delicate and require winter shelter. These species eat a high proportion of vegetable matter and appreciate a grazing area. Most of these species are hole-nesters.
  • Many of these species are sociable outside the breeding season, although Cairina moschata - Muscovy duck, Cairina scutulata - White-winged duck, Pteronetta hartlaubii - Hartlaub's duck and Plectropterus gambensis - Spur-winged goose can all be aggressive and require separate enclosures.

(B7, B11.33.w1, B94, D1)

  • Pygmy geese are delicate and breed extremely rarely in captivity. They may be best maintained fully-flighted in an aviary. A raised nest box should be provided. The normal laying period is May to June (B29); eggs laid July to September, New York (N1.90.w1).
  • Ducklings apparently feed by straining small particles from the water. Feeding may be stimulated by rapidly moving fingers in a dish of water containing fine feed; this may be required for three weeks or more. Duckweed may also be useful to encourage feeding, but may itself be too large for young downies to eat. Supplemental tube feeding has been useful in downies during the initial rearing period (N1.90.w1).

(B7, B29, N1.90.w1)

Species-specific information:

  • Cold-sensitive birds, requiring protection in prolonged cold spells (D1).
  • A large open pond of natural water is important for breeding, although they may be maintained (not bred) in small aviaries. Good access to sunlight is recommended (minimal shade in enclosure). A log coming from the water is appreciated for roosting, so that the birds do not need to come onto land.
  • Small seeds (e.g. bugie mix or finch mix), starter crumbs, wheat and about 40% of the diet as green food - chopped greens, duckweed etc. should be provided. Whole waterlily flower and water hyacinths Eichhornia crassipes are eaten also but care should be taken with water hyacinths as thees are an invasive species.
  • Breeding may be best if the birds are kept as a colony; males are aggressive to one another and fighting occurs but injury is rare. Wooden nest boxes, 30x30x48cm, with a 9cm diameter hole 12cm from the top of the box, placed over water on poles should be provided, with a ramp giving access to the box and nesting material (sawdust and fine shell grit) provided inside. Sitting females are very sensitive to disturbance and readily desert the nest; fostering under closely related species (e.g. Nettapus coromandelianus - Cotton pygmy-goose) has been prefered for this reason.
  • Parents are highly attentive and handrearing has been attemped only rarely. Ample green food should be provided for the youngsters, also livefood such as white ants and fly pupae


Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: E 6.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 13 inches, 33cm (B3); 30-36cm (B1).
Adult weight General 260-300g (B1).
Male 300-430g average 310g (B3); mean 10.9 ounces (B8).
Female 245-340g average 304g (B3); mean 10.7 ounces (B8).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Adult Bill Male Black/dark grey with pink nail and underside (B6, B25).
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Black/dark grey with pink nail and underside (B6, B25).
Eyes (Iris) Brown.

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Adult Male Black/dark grey (B6, B5).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Black/dark grey (B6, B5).

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Adult Male Head has sides of face and throat white, crown to below eyes fine barred green/brown, neck and upperparts dark iridescent green/back, upper breast and flanks finely barred dark green and white, lower breast and abdomen white.

Wings and tail black, with coverts greenish, secondaries (speculum ) white.
(B3, B6, B8, B25).

Variations (If present) Female:- Slightly duller, face has grey flecking, foreneck white with dark green barred markings (B25).

Eclipse:- Similar to female but neck markings mottled rather than barred (B25).

Juvenile Similar to female but face, chin and neck mottled with dark brown. (B1, B3, B25).

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts grey with darker crown, rump and tail, and white markings on wings and flank; underparts and face white, with dark eyeline bill to nape. (B6) (Upperparts brown, underparts white, B1).
Bill: Grey (B6)
Feet: Grey (B6)

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Mainly in wet season, beginning November to March (B1, B8).
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In tree hollow near water, with down lining (B1, B8)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 8-12 (B1, B3, B8).
Egg Description Creamy white (B3, B6, B8); Size 44x32mm; weight 30g (B3).

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Unknown. Probably about 23-24 days (B8); 26-28 days in captivity (B139).

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Unknown. Probably about 50-60 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Dabble, head-dip and up-end, occasionally dive, also graze (B1, B3, B8, B25).
Newly-hatched Dive well for food (B3).

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary nests, site chosen by female (B1).
Incubation By female (B3, B8).
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents (B3, B8).

Family groups merge after fledging (B8).

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Form small flocks in dry season but pairs defend territory in breeding season (B8, B25).
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong pair bonds, possibly permanent (B3, B8, B25).

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Rest on the water or on partially-submerged branches (B25).
Circadian Forage in shallows in early morning and late afternoon; found in deeper water at midday (B3).

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Natural Diet


Water-lilies (seeds and flowers, bud, leaves, stems) favourite food, also other aquatic plants, also shoreline grasses e.g. millet, and aquatic invertebrates (B1, B3, B8, B25).

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Tropical northern Australia, southern New Guinea (B1, B8, B25)

Movements generally local, some dispersal with widespread flooding in wet season (B1, B8, B25).

Occasional and Accidental

Vagrants across Australia and to islands in Banda Sea, Molucca Sea in wet season (B1, B25).



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Lowland tropical lagoons, swamps and deep permanent lakes, preferably covered with water-lilies and submerged vegetation (B1, B3, B8, B19, B25).

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

Not considered globally threatened; locally abundant (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Destruction of aquatic vegetation by cattle (B1, B8).

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Captive Populations

Rarely found in collections (B8).

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