Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Sara Storkin
Observer Staff Writer 

Egyptian Goose Seen in Douglas Park Santa Monica, California, for the First Time

Ornamental birds are seen in Egyptian art, but not previously in California

 

January 3, 2020

Elaine GG

Egyptian goose in Santa Monica, CA on 12/27/2019

Birdwatchers take heed: Egyptian geese have been spotted near Douglas Park in Santa Monica. The species is common in Africa, but are not native to the America's and have not previously been reported in California.

According to Wikipedia, the Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca) is a member of the duck, goose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley.

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 Egyptian goose has escaped or been deliberately released in to Florida. However Egyptian geese are also now present in many parts of Central and Southeastern Texas with more than 100 sightings just in the first quarter of 2018 as reported in ebird.org database.

It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name. Egyptian geese measure 25–29 inches in length.

The sexes of this species are identical in plumage but the males average slightly larger. There is a fair amount of variation in plumage tone, with some birds grey and others brown, but this is not sex- or age-related.

A large part of the wings of mature birds is white, but in repose the white is hidden by the wing coverts. When it is aroused, either in alarm or aggression, the white begins to show. In flight or when the wings are fully spread in aggression, the white is conspicuous.

The voices and vocalizations of the sexes 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.

This species breeds widely in Africa except in deserts and dense forests, and is locally abundant. 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 arid regions of the Sahel.

Elaine GG

Egyptian goose in Santa Monica, CA on 12/27/2019

It spread to Great Britain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany and Italy where there are self-sustaining populations which are mostly derived from escaped ornamental birds. Escapees have also bred on occasion in other places, such as Texas, Florida, California, and New Zealand. The British population dates back to the 18th century, though only formally added to the British list in 1971.

In Britain, it is found mainly in East Anglia, where it breeds at sites with open water, short grass and suitable nesting locations (either islands, holes in old trees or amongst epicormic shoots on old trees). During the winter they are widely dispersed within river valleys where they feed on short grass and cereals.

In the United Kingdom in 2009, it was officially declared a non-native species. Accordingly, Egyptian geese in Britain may be shot without special permission if they cause problems.

 

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