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< >  Plectropterus gambensis - Spur-winged goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Sporengans (German)
Oie-armee de Gambie (French)
Oie armee (French)
Ganso africano de espolon (Spanish)
Ganso Espolonado (Spanish)
Plectropterus gambensis gambensis Gambian spur-winged goose
Plectropterus gambensis gambensis Northern spur-winged goose
Plectropterus gambensis niger Black spur-winged goose

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B6, B8, B25, B26

Aviculture references:
B7, B11.33.w1B29, B30, B94, B97
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

Notes

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)

Species-specific information:

  • Spur-winged geese are winter-hardy. They are usually aggressive, although exceptions are reported, and generally a pair or trio should be maintained in a separate pen. They are good climbers and maintenance in large aviaries has been suggested. A good area of grass should be available for grazing.
  • These geese are infrequently bred in collections. They will nest in close natural ground cover or in a kennel or wigwam. The laying period is mainly February to April and the goslings may be hand reared, or may be parent-reared in a spacious area.
  • Hybrids are not common, but have been reported with Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose, Anser cygnoides - Swan goose, Chloephaga picta - Upland goose, Tadorna tadorna - Common shelduck.

(B29, B30, B94, B97, D1).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme recommended average ring size: T 20mm (D8)

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 30-39 inches, 75-100 cm (B1, B3)
Adult weight General 4.0-6.8kg (B1)
Male 5.4-5.9kg (rarely up to 10kg) (B3); mean 13.2 lbs. (B8).
Female 4.0-4.5kg (B3); mean 10.5 lbs. (B8)
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Red with frontal knob. Pink nail. (B3, B6, B8, B25)
Variations (If present) Female:- Smaller frontal knob. (B3, B6, B8, B25)

Plectropterus gambensis niger:- Frontal knob small/absent (B3, B6, B8, B25).

Eyes (Iris) Male Brown. (B4, B8, B25)
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Red. (B3, B6, B8, B25)
Eyes (Iris) Brown (B6, B25)

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Legs

Adult Male Red-pink (B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Red-pink (B3, B6, B8, B25, B26).

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Plumage

Adult Male Head and neck black, with white throat, bare skin (grey/blue/red) in front of eyes and bare patch of skin (reddish) either side at top of neck. Upperparts including upper flanks and tail black, underparts (breast, abdomen, lower flanks,ventral area, undertail coverts) white.

Wings black except carpal area (wing bend) and lesser coverts white. Spur at carpus (wing bend), not visible when wing folded.

(B3, B6, B8, B25, B26)

Variations (If present) Female:- less bare facial skin.

Plectropterus gambensis niger :- similar but breast and flanks black, no bare skin on neck.

(B3, B6, B8, B25, B26)

Juvenile Similar to adult but duller black with brown-grey feather edges and pale brown rather than white ventrally. Head fully feathered, brown. (B3, B6, B25, B26)

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts pale yellow-brown with paler face, bands on sides of body and patches on wings; underparts buff
Bill: Grey
Feet: Grey (B6)

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begin in/near end of rainy season. Mainly September to January in South Africa, mostly January to March in Zambia (B1, B3, B8)
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

In trees (often in abandoned nests of other birds), tree hollows or on ground, using twigs, grass, reed-stems, leaves, with down lining (B1, B3, B8)

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average --
Range 6-14 (B1, B8); 6-15 (B3). More with dump-nesting (B8)
Egg Description Ivory white, Size: 73-56mm, weight: 140g (B3, B8).

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Incubation

30-32 days (B3), 30-33 days (B8)

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

70 days or more, perhaps 120 days (B8); about 10 weeks (B1).

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Sexual Maturity

Males --
Females --

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Mainly feed on land, e.g. grazing on floodplains (B1, B8).
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building Solitary (B1).
Incubation By female (B3, B8)
Newly-hatched Usually tended by female only, male may sometimes remain with brood in East Africa (B3, B8).
Juveniles

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Aggressive while breeding. Form flocks, often about 50 birds, for feeding, roosting and large flocks when moulting (B3, B8, B25)
Inter-specific Highly aggressive when breeding (B6, B25)

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Sexual Behaviour

Pair bonds weak, usually break by the end of incubation (B3, B8).

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Predation in Wild

Nile crocodiles may be a threat to juveniles and adults (B8)

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Activity Patterns

Perch in trees, loaf in middle of the day on sandbanks, low vegetation or sometimes in trees (B8).
Circadian Often crepuscular feeding on fields in dry season, flying from roosts in flocks, but may feed all day in rainy season (B3).

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian: seeds and shoots of grasses, sedges, aquatic plants (e.g. water lilies) grain, fruit, tubers, also some invertebrates and occasionally small fish. (B1, B3, B6, B8, 26).

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Plectropterus gambensis gambensis Gambia to Ethiopia, southward to Angola and Zambezi River. (B1)
Plectropterus gambensis niger Southern Africa: Namibia and Zimbabwe to Cape Province (B1)

Movements: local, seasonal movements related to water availability. (B1, B8, B25) Form large flocks to moult, moving north as far as Lake Chad, Senegal Delta . (B1, B8)

Occasional and Accidental

Reported to Egypt, Oman, Morocco (B1).

Introduced

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Habitat

Lakes, rivers, marshes, swamps, reservoirs, preferably with scattered trees surrounding and near grassland/agricultural land. Avoid dense forest, desert. Mainly lowland, but seen at up to 3000m (nearly 10,000feet) in East Africa (B1, B3, B6, B8, B19, B25)

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Plectropterus gambensis gambensis Gambia to Ethiopia, southward to Angola and Zambezi River.

Plectropterus gambensis niger Southern Africa: Namibia and Zimbabwe to Cape Province. Slightly smaller and with less white on body.
(B1, B3, B6, B8, B25)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not globally threatened, locally abundant (B1).

CITES listing CITES III in Ghana (B1).
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Reasonably common in collections but rarely bred (B8).

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Trade

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