Magpie Goose

a.k.a. Pied Goose or Semipalmated Goose

Anseranas semipalmata

Young Magpie Geese, and a Nene who was a real camera-hog

This distinctive goose breeds over much of Australia and southern New Guinea. During very dry periods it may appear in southern Australia. The sexes are similar in plumage but the males are noticeably larger and older males have a prominent cranial knob. The male has a louder, more resonant honk than the female.

In captivity a pair requires a large enclosure, on the order of 600-1,000 square meters, and they are very destructive of vegetation. They are easy to please in regards to diet, happily taking various grains or pellets and greens are relished. They also search for rhizomes by digging holes that are large enough to contain the entire head and neck.

Nest building involves two steps. First they build a nest stage by bending vegetation downward. Then they build the true nest of broken vegetation, placed on the nest stage and formed into a cup shape. Magpie geese frequently will breed in trios and sometimes the females will be mother and daughter. In the wild, single clutches number 7-9 eggs, but if two females are laying the number is only 8-10. In captivity incubation has ranged from 24-30 days, but in the wild is generally 24-26 days. Both sexes incubate the eggs, with the male sitting at night.

Unlike typical waterfowl, the parents will feed begging goslings by collecting surface feeds and placing them in the gosling's bill. The parents are very protective of their young.

They differ from all the other geese in that they do a gradual molt and therefore undergo no period of flightlessness. Their toes are very long and only slightly webbed and the birds are often found perched on branches, another un-gooselike trait.

Two shots of one of the young Magpie Geese above


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