Alopochen – Egyptian goose

There are two or three species that have gone extinct within approximately the last 1,000 years.

The Egyptian goose is native to sub-Saharan Africa and the Nile Valley. It stands out among waterfowl with its distinctive eye patches and the unique blend of colors in its plumage. The Egyptian goose is the sole extant species within its genus, Alopochen, which also includes the extinct Madagascar shelduck (Alopochen sirabensis) and the Reunion shelduck (Alopochen kervazoi).

This species exhibits a variety of feeding behaviors that are omnivorous. Their diet includes a broad spectrum of plant materials, such as seeds, leaves, and grasses, readily available in their habitats. They also consume insects, mollusks, and small fish, showcasing their adaptability to different food sources. The Egyptian goose’s feeding habits often lead them to forage in agricultural areas where they eat crops and can sometimes be considered pests.

Opportunistic by nature, Egyptian geese have also adapted to urban environments where they may feed on human-provided food sources. In some areas, it is common to see them in parks and near water bodies where people might feed them bread and grain, although it is generally discouraged as it can lead to poor nutrition and health issues for the birds.

The role of the Egyptian goose in its ecosystem is multifaceted. As a seed disperser, it contributes to the propagation of various plant species. The birds’ droppings often contain undigested seeds, which can lead to the growth of new plants far from the original source. Additionally, as a prey species, they provide sustenance for a range of predators, including large birds of prey and carnivorous mammals.

These geese are also recognized for their striking appearance, making them popular subjects of birdwatching and photography. They have pale buff plumage with distinctive dark brown eye patches, a patch around the chest, and secondary feathers that are metallic green. Their legs and bill are pinkish, adding to their unique look.