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magpie goose, pied goose
(partially webbed feet)
This is a large black and white goose with a long neck. It has white on the back, shoulders, rump, breast and belly and black on the head, neck, wings and tail. This species of goose has a prominent, rounded knob on its forehead and naked red skin on the face. The beak is small with a slight hook at the end.
Up to 92 cm long
Approximately 2000 g (4.4 lb)
Includes seeds of wetland sedges, rushes, grasses, and other aquatic plants
Approximately 2 years
32 years or more in the wild
Northern Australia, New Guinea, and Tasmania; current populations are the result of reintroductions from northern Australia
Inhabit large freshwater lakes, slow-moving waterways, and swamps
Magpie geese often breed in trios rather than pairs. Two females lay their eggs on a floating platform of reeds made by a single male. After the eggs hatch, the three parents feed the chicks by bending tall grasses over with their feet so the goslings can eat the seeds.
Unlike most waterfowl, magpie geese do not loose (molt) their flight feathers all at once therefore they are never left flightless. Some scientists believe that this makes the magpie goose more closely related to screamers than are other waterfowl.
They are not closely related to true ducks, and are the only known waterfowl to feed their young.
ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION
The magpie goose plays an integral part in the lives of Aboriginal people across northern Australia. The geese and their eggs are hunted for food.
Magpie geese once lived in swamps throughout Australia however large populations have been poisoned because they are considered agricultural pests. In addition, their breeding swamps have also been drained to make way for farmland.
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A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World
. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.
Natural History of Waterfowl
. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.