Egyptian Geese: Photos, Facts, Interesting Details, & Common Questions

Egyptian Goose Flying

Egyptian god with Egyptian Goose on headEgyptian Geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca) are pale brown and grey with contrasting white wing patches in flight. The Egyptian Goose is distinctive thanks to dark brown eye patches, making it appear to be wearing dark glasses. They are strikingly ornate birds with beautiful coloration. Both male and female Egyptian Geese have a similar resemblance.

Although once common along the length of the Nile Valley, the Egyptian Goose is no longer abundant within the country from which it takes its name. Native to sub-tropical Africa south of the Sahara and Nile Valley, the Egyptian Goose was introduced to Britain in the late 17th century as an ornamental bird for the aristocracy. Over time it escaped these estates, and today Egyptian Geese are thriving in Western Europe, the United States of America, and New Zealand. Ancient Egyptians considered the Egyptian Goose sacred, and it made regular appearances in the civilizations' artwork.

Egyptian Geese Kissing

Questions & Answers:

Is the Egyptian Goose a duck?

Despite its misleading name, the Egyptian Goose is a species belonging to the shelduck family rather than a goose. The Egyptian Goose appears to be a versatile species, though, which can cause some confusion. On the water, it is very duck-like, whereas, in flight, it seems to be heavy, resembling a goose. The species also possesses a long neck and legs that appear quite goose-like.

Egyptian Geese family swimming

Are Egyptian Geese rare?

Egyptian Geese native range in AfricaWithin their native range in Africa (seen at right from Wikipedia), the Egyptian goose is steadily declining; however, their numbers are currently maintaining a high enough number to classify them as the least concern species globally on the IUCN Red List. The exact size of their native population is unknown but is thought to be at least 500,000 individuals.

In the UK, while they were initially limited to a small region of Norfolk, the Egyptian Goose is now a thriving species across Greater London and the surrounding counties. Breeding in the West Country and even northern England around the Humber Estuary has been observed. The north Norfolk coast is home to the highest population of Egyptian Geese in England, particularly in areas such as the Norfolk Broads.

Egyptian Geese are also slowly establishing populations further afield in the United States of America and Western Europe.

Egyptian Goose in green grass

Are there Egyptian Geese in England or the Netherlands?

Egyptian Geese were introduced to England by the gentry in the late 17th century, but individuals escaped and began establishing themselves in the wild over time. Forty years ago, their wild numbers gradually increased, and their established breeding area grew from the Norfolk Broads to wider Norfolk. Fifteen years ago, the population grew exponentially, and experts estimate there are 900 breeding pairs in Norfolk alone. Strongholds also exist in other areas of the country, like along the Thames in London and the gravel pits of Berkshire. There is even a colony growing in the East Midlands.

The Netherlands is home to a larger non-native population of Egyptian Geese than the United Kingdom. It currently possesses around 100,000 individuals despite the first breeding pair not being observed there until the 1960s. This insinuates that individuals from Norfolk migrate across the North Sea to the continent.

Egyptian Geese wading in reeds

Are there Egyptian Geese in Texas, Florida, or California?

Egyptian Geese can be found in Florida, Texas, and Southern California. They are not native to North America and are an introduced species to the continent. Due to their proximity to humans, there are few limiting factors to their population growth. In Texas, hybridization between an Egyptian goose and a domestic duck has been observed.

Egyptian Geese in green field

Are Egyptian Geese native to the USA?

Egyptian Geese are not native to North America. They have been introduced to the southern states of the United States of America and can now be observed throughout Florida, Texas, and California's southern regions. Like the United Kingdom, Egyptian Geese were imported from their native home in Africa to the United States as decorative birds and for private collections. Individuals that escaped have established hardy feral populations that are growing.

Are Egyptian Geese invasive?

Egyptian Geese are classified as an invasive species outside their native range, such as in the USA and the UK. They can be very aggressive toward native waterfowl and wildlife, chasing them from their habitats and causing a disturbance. Egyptian Geese also can spread disease to wildlife and commercial poultry. 

There is a fear that Egyptian Geese may outcompete or crossbreed with native species to create hybrid species. There is currently no evidence of this happening aside from the earlier cited example of hybridization in Texas between an Egyptian goose and a domestic duck.

Are Egyptian Geese aggressive?

Egyptian Geese are highly territorial animals. They are aggressive toward the opposite sex of their species during breeding seasons, and they will actively pursue individuals that enter their personal space in aerial dogfights.

Neighboring pairs are also known to kill another's offspring to ensure the survival of their own in times of limited resources. Egyptian Geese have even been observed striking aerial objects like drones that may enter their habitat!

Egyptian Geese Dancing

What do Egyptian goslings eat?

Egyptian Geese goslings will feed on small aquatic invertebrates, such as freshwater plankton, for the first few weeks of their lives. Once baby Egyptian Geese are older, they will transition to grazing on grasses.

The diet of Egyptian Geese usually consists of grasses, leaves, plant stems and leaves. Occasionally they have been seen eating invertebrates like worms and locusts. On even rarer occasions, they will eat small animals.

Egyptian goose with goslings or ducklings or baby geese

How do you get rid of Egyptian Geese?

As Egyptian Geese are an invasive species that disturb native waterfowl and wildlife, they can be problematic. Here are three ways to humanely discourage Egyptian Geese from inhabiting an area:

  • Remove their food: If you have birdfeeders or other wildlife feeders on the property, consider removing these. Once the Egyptian geese realize there is no longer food available within the area, they will most likely move on.
  • Prevent the geese from nesting: Before the Egyptian Geese return to your property, place a large object at their previous nesting site to obstruct new nesting behavior. Do not disturb already nesting animals. Incubation typically takes 30 days, and both parents tend to the young.
  • Create a goose repellent: Fill an empty bottle with rocks, beads, or marbles and fasten the lid. Walk toward the geese whilst shaking the bottle. The sound should disturb the geese and subsequently scare them away. Over time the geese will associate the bottle with the bottle. Do not hit the geese with the bottle.

If further precautions are necessary, as Egyptian geese are listed as an official non-native species in the United Kingdom under the UK Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019, landowners may shoot them if they cause problems to native fauna and flora.

In the United States, Egyptian geese are protected under federal law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and should only be handled by authorized professional wildlife companies.