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Magpie Goose

A pair of Magpie Geese standing on a grassy bank. [Photographed by Peter Rowland]
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Scientific Name: Anseranus semipalmata

Size: Males can reach up to 92 cm, but females are slightly smaller.

What does it look like?

The Magpie Goose has a black neck and head, with a characteristic knobbed crown (larger in males). The underparts are white, with contrasting black edges on the underwing. The bill, legs and feet are orange.

Where is it found?

The Magpie Goose is widespread throughout coastal northern and eastern Australia. It can be seen from Fitzroy River, WA, through northern Australia to Rockhampton, Qld, and occasionally south to Clarence River, NSW. Some individuals, mostly younger birds, may be seen quite long distances inland.

What are its habitats & habits?

It inhabits floodplains and wet grasslands, and large, noisy flocks of up to a few thousand birds can congregate to feed on aquatic vegetation. The Magpie Goose is a specialized feeder, with wild rice Oryza, Paspalum, Panicum and spike-rush, Eleocharis, forming the bulk of its diet.

During the breeding season, normally February to June, the Magpie Goose will build nests in secluded places, usually close to wetlands. The nest is almost single-handedly constructed by the male. It usually consists of a simple unlined cup placed in a floating platform of trampled reeds, but may also be built in treetops.

Pairs of geese mate for life, but the male may have two females. As two females may occasionally use the same nest, the large, oval, off-white coloured eggs, may number up to 16, but 8 is a more common size. All adults share incubation and care for the young.

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Front cover of Australia's Birdwatching Megaspots book showing a picture of an Eastern Spinebill

This species features in my book Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots

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