Egyptian Goose

Egyptian Goose

Nil goose, African sheldgoose

Alopochen aegyptiacus
Population size
Life Span
15-25 years
kg lbs 
cm inch 
cm inch 

The Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a member of the duck, goose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa and named for its place of origin. Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians and appeared in much of their artwork. Because of their popularity chiefly as an ornamental bird, escapees are common and feral populations have become established in Western Europe, the United States, and New Zealand.


The Egyptian goose is a large, very distinctive waterbird with conspicuous eye patches of dark chocolate-brown. The female resembles the male, though is smaller, often with darker markings on her beak. The genders can also be told apart by their calls, as the male makes a strong, hoarse hissing noise, while the female produces a harsh, trumpeting quack. Young Egyptian geese have a duller color and have a gray tinge on their forewings, and their crown and neck are darker, with yellowish legs and beak.




Egyptian geese are widespread throughout Africa except in deserts and dense forests. They are found mostly in the Nile Valley and south of the Sahara. While not breeding, it disperses somewhat, sometimes making longer migrations northwards into the arid regions of the Sahel. These birds inhabit a range of open country wetland habitats, including rivers, dams, marshes, lakes, reservoirs, estuaries, offshore islands, and sewage works. They prefer bodies of water with open shorelines which are close to agricultural land or grasslands where they can graze.

Egyptian Goose habitat map

Climate zones

Egyptian Goose habitat map
Egyptian Goose
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Habits and Lifestyle

Egyptian geese remain together in small flocks during the year, primarily for protection. During the breeding season, they pair up but otherwise stay with their flocks. They are good swimmers but most of their time is spent on land. During the day they may wander away from the water in search of food in grasslands or agricultural fields but at night always return to the water. Both, males and females of this species are aggressively territorial with their own species during breeding and often pursue intruders in flight, attacking them in "dogfights" in the air. The voices and vocalisations of the males and females differ; the male having a hoarse, subdued duck-like quack which seldom sounds unless it is aroused. The male Egyptian goose attracts its mate with an elaborate, noisy courtship display that includes honking, neck stretching, and feather displays. The female has a far noisier raucous quack that frequently sounds in aggression and almost incessantly at the slightest disturbance when tending her young.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Egyptian geese are primarily herbivores, feeding on grass, seeds, stems, and leaves from various plants, as well as grains, potatoes, and other types of vegetables. They also eat worms and locusts.

Mating Habits

late spring or the end of the dry season
28-30 days
4 months
5-11 eggs

Egyptian geese are monogamous and a pair stays together for their whole life. Males are quite aggressive during mating. Each male performs an elaborate and noisy courtship display, producing unusually loud honking noises for the purpose of attracting a female. These geese breed in spring or when the dry season ends. A pair nests on its own on the ground, sheltered by vegetation, sometimes higher on a ledge or in a tree, or in an abandoned nest of another species up in a tree, or inside a hole. Females lay 5 to 11 creamy white eggs. Incubation is by the female only and lasts for around 28 to 30 days. Births are synchronized. Both the male and the female feed and care for the chicks. The young fledge at about 60 to 75 days, remaining under the care of their parents for almost 4 months. The chicks reach maturity when they are 2 years old.


Population threats

The Egyptian goose is a relatively common and widespread species and currently is not considered to be under threat of extinction. However, in parts of its range, being regarded as agricultural pests, they are shot or poisoned, and sometimes they are hunted for sport.

Population number

The IUCN Red List and other sources do not provide the Egyptian geese total population size. Currently, this species is classified as least concern (LC) but its numbers are decreasing.

Ecological niche

Since Egyptian geese tend to eat much of their food on the ground, therefore they help to disperse seeds to other areas through their droppings, break up the soil and speed up the decomposition of dead plants.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Egyptian geese were domesticated in the time of the ancient Egyptians, who viewed them as sacred, depicting them often in their artwork.
  • The Greeks and Romans also had Egyptian Geese in their domestic flocks.
  • The Egyptian Goose is not actually a goose, but a shelduck: a cross between a duck and a goose. It has many characteristics of a duck, but also some external traits of a goose. It is the most widely spread of all African waterfowl.
  • Egyptian geese usually get away from danger by walking, seldom flying, except when they are surprised. Flying looks goose-like and heavy, with slow wing beats. The geese may fly together, forming an irregular V-shape, or they may fly in a long line.
  • Chicks, born in very up-high nests, must draw on their courage to jump out into the void when leaving the nest. Their parents do not help but call from the ground with encouragement to make this sometimes vertiginous fall.


1. Egyptian Goose Wikipedia article -
2. Egyptian Goose on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Video creator -

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