Magpie goose Magpie Goose
Magpie Goose

Scientific Classification

Common Name
magpie goose, pied goose
Genus Species
Anseranas (duck) semipalmata (partially webbed feet)

Fast Facts

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 (36 in.) long
Approximately 2 kg (4.4 lbs.)
Includes seeds of wetland sedges, rushes, grasses, and other aquatic plants
24 to 35 days
Clutch Size
3 to 8 eggs
Fledging Duration
3 months
Sexual Maturity
Approximately 2 years
Life Span
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
Global: Unknown
IUCN: Not listed
CITES: Not listed
USFWS: Not listed

Fun Facts

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, these birds do not molt their flight feathers all at once, as a result, they are always able to fly.

Some scientists believe the magpie goose more closely related to screamers than other waterfowl. In fact, they are not closely related to true ducks.

These birds 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.

These birds once lived in swamps throughout Australia; however, large populations have been poisoned because they are considered agricultural pests. In addition, much of their breeding habitat has been drained to create additional farmland.


Austin, G. Birds of the World. New York. Golden Press, Inc., 1961.

Gotch, A.F. Birds - Their Latin Names Explained. UK. Blandford Books Ltd., 1981.

Johnsgard, P. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World. Lincoln. Univ. Of Neb. Press, 1978.

Scott, P. A Coloured Key of the Wildfowl of the World. Slimbridge, England. The Wildfowl Trust. 1988.

Todd, F.S. Natural History of Waterfowl. San Diego, Ca. Ibis Publishing Co., 1996.

BirdLife International. 2016. Anseranas semipalmata. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22679732A92826979. Downloaded on 17 December 2018.