Most of us have a love/hate relationship for Egyptian Geese. Even though ancient Egyptians viewed them as sacred, I’m pretty sure its not the case today.
While sitting at a bird hide in Ngwenya Lodge (https://www.ngwenya.co.za/) hoping to enjoy some special birds on the river, all I saw and heard was a large flock of these blighters. With their raucous honking, asthmatic hissing, harsh trumpeting, no one was prepared to hang around except me. I certainly felt irreverent toward them that day.
Who hasn’t planned to sleep in after a night out in the company of red wine and whiskey? Don’t you just “love” Egyptian Geese the next morning incessantly honking and hissing from your roof top? It’s painful.
Saying that, these geese have redeeming qualities.
First of all, they are monogamous and pair for life. Added to this, they make excellent parents and are not afraid to defend their chicks – aggressively aswell.
Male or Female?
With their long necks, pink legs and bill, white wing patches and brown eye masks, these birds are rather handsome. It’s difficult to tell the difference between male and female. The male is slightly larger than the female and has a thicker neck (female’s neck is longer). I’ve found it easier to differentiate them when there is a pair together. The subtle differences are clearer.
Its also fun to try work out whose calling – mom or dad? The females honk and the males hiss. (I know a few humans who do the same!!). When you hear loud repetitive trumpeting honking know the female is the culprit. The male can’t compete – he wheezes and hisses.
Egyptian geese are native to sub-tropical Africa and very common in southern Africa (don’t we know it).
“Thanks” to the interference of man, Egyptian Geese are also found across Europe and in parts of the US.
These birds were introduced to the UK and Europe as early as the 1700’s. You can well imagine how they battled to survive icy winters.
In the Southern Hemisphere, they breed around January each year. Those who have found themselves in the Northern Hemisphere have not broken this habit (instinct?). We find them nesting and bringing up their chicks during the winter months. Many of course couldn’t survive, not only because of the cold, but with limited food supply during the winter months, hungry predators’ were also a threat.
However, with the warmer weather these past years, the numbers are growing and in some areas quite rapidly.
Some Fun Facts
Habitat – Egyptian Geese don’t like forests so you’re safe there.
They love wide open grassy spaces like grasslands, meadows, agricultural fields and of course golf courses. They also love large bodies of water so you will find them in wetlands, rivers, streams, lakes, estuaries. I’ve even seen them on the beach and at the harbour.
What they like to eat – Egyptian Geese are mainly herbivores. So grass, seeds, leaves, grains are on their menu.
Nests. Egyptian geese like to nest near wetlands on the ground, although they also favour hollows in trees, cliffs and buildings. They are known to take over nests belonging to someone else – from crow nests, to hamerkops and even raptors such as sparrowhawks.
Only the female incubates the eggs while the male stands guard. Not for long though – the fledglings leave the nest after 6 hours of hatching. Mom calls them and then promptly escorts them to the water where they are told to swim (or else?).
I do hope these fun facts have softened your heart toward these rather vocal creatures . You’ll only know when you’ve just been woken up at sun rise to the tune of a pair of bellowing Egyptian Geese.