Kingdoms / Animalia / Craniata / Aves / Anseriformes / Anseranatidae / Anseranas / Species
< > Anseranas semipalmata - Magpie goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
Click on photograph for full-screen view Click on photograph for full-screen view

INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

Click image to return to Waterfowl Contents FlowchartCONTENTS
(Waterfowl)

Click image for list of Waterfowl Species

Click image for list of Waterfowl Agents
Click image for list of Waterfowl Diseases
Click image for list of Waterfowl Environmental Events / Factors

Return to top of page

General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Pied Goose
Semipalmated Goose
Black-and-white goose
Canaroie semipalmé (French)
Spaltfußgans (German)
Ganso Urraco (Spanish)
Oie pie (French)
Gans overo o pintado (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

--

Return to top of page

References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B7, B8, B19, B25, B26

Aviculture references:
J23.13.w8, J23.13.w9
B29, B30, B97, B128.w5
D1, D8

Other References

--
Click image for main Reference Section

Return to top of page

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

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

Return to top of page

Aviculture Information

Notes

Magpie geese are ideally kept full-winged in a large, high aviary with high perches provided; they normally perch in trees in the daytime and roost on perches at night.. Magpie geese are prone to Frostbite in very severe weather and may lose toes as a result. A frost-free and possibly heated shelter for roosting should be provided in winter, or a weather-proofed electric heat lamp over a pile of dry straw in an outside enclosure may be used. They are less prone to Frostbite if they are able to perch off the ground.

Magpie geese may be aggressive (Aggressive Birds (Category 1.) (D1)), particularly while they have goslings; they have been known to attack people. They are also very destructive to vegetation.

These geese may be fed a standard waterfowl diet of pellets and wheat, with extra green food. Food in winter should be plentiful. They prefer to feed near water. They are strong diggers and may be prone to Lead Poisoning from lead shot dug out and eaten as grit - a plentiful supply of grit and green food is essential.

Magpie geese breed variably in captivity, and may breed best if left full-winged. Fully-winged birds nest above ground level, although pinioned birds may build a substantial nest on the ground, or on a low platform if provided. Frequently form trios (male and two females), usually with the females related. Mate formation may be best encouraged by introducing a juvenile male and two females, possibly sisters. Pairing of adult birds may take years. Copulation normally occurs at the nest. Eggs may be laid as early as April and as late as September (Slimbridge, UK) (October to March, Taronga, Australia), with re-laying if eggs are removed and up to four clutches laid in a season. Nesting and egg laying appears to be stimulated by prolonged periods of heavy rain. Incubation reported in captivity as 27-28 days. Both broody and artificial incubation may be used.

Goslings have been parent-reared and hand-reared. They are not difficult to hand-rear, although they may be aggressive to one another. Green food such as duckweed and egg yolk may be sprinkled on 19-20% protein starter crumbs to encourage feeding initially, with a reduction to a 16-17% protein diet from three weeks; plenty of chopped green food and duckweed Lemna should be provided at all times. A weight increase to 8-10 times hatching weight by three weeks should be expected. The goslings easily become imprinted; contact with humans should be kept to a minimum and the goslings should be reared with other downies, preferably of their own species.

It is possible to sex magpie geese by feeling the trachea looped under the skin on the left side of the breast in males.

(J23.13.w8, J23.13.w9, B29, B30, B97, B128.w5, B139).

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

Management Techniques

--
Click image for main Aviculture Section

Return to top of page

External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length Male 75-90cm, female 70-80cm (B1)
Adult weight General --
Male 1.8-3.2kg, average 2.8kg (B3); mean 6.0lb (B8)
Female 1.4-2.8kg, average 2.1kg (B3); mean 4.6lb (B8)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

Return to top of page

Head

Adult Bill Male Long, yellow to reddish with raised nostrils and a pronounced grey hooked nail with a black band on either side.

Bare skin back to the eyes, fleshy to reddish.

Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Long, yellow to reddish with raised nostrils and a pronounced grey hooked nail with a black band on either side.

Bare skin back to the eyes.

Eyes (Iris) Dark brown

Return to top of page

Legs

Adult Male Bright yellow.

Feet only partially webbed.

Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Duller fleshy-yellow

Return to top of page

Plumage

Adult Male Head, neck, rump, tail, legs, wings black; otherwise white.
  • Enlarged bony crown to head.
  • Gradual moult of flight feathers so never flightless.
  • Elongated trachea palpable under the skin of the breast, usually on the left side.
Variations (If present) Bony crown smaller in the female and the tracheal loop is absent
Juvenile Plumage mottled and greyish

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Bright cinnamon head and neck, dark grey upperparts, whitish abdomen.
Bill: Raised nostrils as in adult. Pinkish fading to grey later.

Feet: Pinkish fading to grey later.

Return to top of page

Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins at the start of the wet season: February to April in the north of its range, August to September in the south. Breeding is not synchronous within a colony and clutches may be laid months apart.
No. of Clutches May replace the clutch if it is destroyed by flooding.

Return to top of page

Nest placement and structure

A large mound of vegetation, semi-floating and supported by standing plants. Additional material is added if necessary to keep the nest above water. Little or no down is used.

Return to top of page

Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 5-11 (B8).
Range 1-16; larger clutches indicate two females laying (B1, B8).
Egg Description Creamy-white (B8). Size: 80 x 54mm, weight: 128g (B3).

Return to top of page

Incubation

23-25 days (B1); 26-30 (mean 28) days (B8).

Return to top of page

Hatching

Synchronous.

Return to top of page

Fledging

Approximately 11 weeks (B1); 70-84 days (B8).

Return to top of page

Sexual Maturity

Males Usually in pair/group by 3-4 years (B8); breeding reported at three years (J23.13.w9).
Females Usually in pair/group by 2 years (B8); breeding reported at three years (J23.13.w9).

Return to top of page

Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Graze on land and feed in the water, wading swimming and up-ending
Newly-hatched Beg for food from parents and take food from the bill, particularly in the first week.

Return to top of page

Parental Behaviour

Nest-building All the adults in a breeding group build the nest. The same site may be used in subsequent years, but usually a new nest is constructed.
Incubation All adults in the breeding group incubate, and may stand over the eggs to cold them when it is very hot. The male appears to incubate at night.
Newly-hatched Brood the goslings for at least three weeks, feed the youngsters from their bills, particularly in the first week. and later dropping food in front of them. Adults also dredge up food from deep water, dig up bulbs and bend down long grass stems to make seedheads accessible.
Juveniles

These are fed by the parents up to four months old and remain partially dependant until the following breeding season.

Return to top of page

Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious throughout the year, families merging to form groups of 100-5,000 birds.
Inter-specific Nests and young are defended vigorously.

Return to top of page

Sexual Behaviour

Frequently form trios (male and two females). Bonds in the breeding group are strong but absent or lost partners may be replaced rapidly.

Return to top of page

Predation in Wild

Can be considerable predation of eggs and young.

Return to top of page

Activity Patterns

Swim infrequently, perch readily, often roost in trees and perch on logs in the water.
Circadian --

Return to top of page

Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian. Aquatic plants and grasses, including seeds, bulbs and rhizomes. Also feed on tender rice shoots.

Return to top of page

Newly-hatched

As adult.

Return to top of page

Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal

North Australia, South New Guinea. Not migratory but move depending on the availability of suitable habitat.

Occasional and Accidental

Other areas of Australia and Tasmania.

Introduced

Reintroduced Victoria, SE Australia

Return to top of page

Habitat

Swamps and grasslands of the floodplains of tropical rivers; usually near the coast.

Return to top of page

Conservation

Intraspecific variation

--

Return to top of page

Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not globally threatened. Considerable fluctuations in numbers occur (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

Return to top of page

Captive Populations

Reasonable well established (B8).

Return to top of page

Trade

--

Return to top of page