The Egyptian goose is quite common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, except for the very arid regions and the dense forests, and is found on many rivers, dams and other stretches of open water. Considered to be sacred in Ancient Egypt, it appears often in the artwork of that historic country.
The Egyptian goose is a large bird with a length of around 68 cm and the sexes are alike in plumage colouration, although the males are slightly bigger than the females. With an overall brown colour, they have dark brown eye patches set in a lighter coloured face, and have lighter coloured under parts. The vent is white and the speculum is green. Legs and feet are pink; bill is pink; eyes are orange.
The Egyptian goose feeds mainly on grass shoots, grass seeds and other vegetable matter. In some areas they have become pests through their habit of feeding on crops, such as maize, in farmlands. They may wander well away from water while feeding.
The call of the male and female Egyptian goose are distinctly different, and their vocalizations provide one of the most reliable ways to differentiate between the sexes. The male typically gives a rather hoarse hiss, while the female is much more vocal and utters a loud honking “hur-hur-hur”.
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The Egyptian goose is monogamous and nests on the ground, or takes over the old nests of other species. The female lays a clutch of 6 or 7 creamy white eggs which hatch after an incubation period of approximately 28 days.
The scientific binomial for the Egyptian goose is Alopochen aegyptiaca; Alopochen from the Greek for “fox goose”, referring to the colour of the bird; and aegyptiaca from the Latin for “from Egypt”. Thus the name describes a fox coloured goose from Egypt; the colour being accurate enough, but of course the distribution of the goose extends way beyond the borders of Egypt.