Egyptian Goose: an invasive species in Europe

NilgansThe Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus) shuffles leisurely into the water. Then she begins to bathe extensively. As she sits back and splashes the water, the low sun’s rays illuminate the water, making it look like a sea of glittering diamonds. Seemingly immersed in a magical moment, the goose relaxes as it lets itself be enveloped by the backlight for the pleasure of the nature photographer. In the backlight, the splashing water really comes into its own when the goose takes a long bath.

Originally native to Africa, the Egyptian Goose has been on an invasive rise in Europe for more than 40 years. At that time, its sporadic appearance was a sensation, but today this so-called half-goose is often encountered in many places. Its distribution in Europe started in Great Britain, where it was released into the wild alongside other duck species and took control of its new homeground rapidly. As the English Channel does not represent a serious geographical barrier for Egyptian Geese, it was only a matter of time before the first birds appeared on the European mainland. Later, captive refugees and feral park birds joined them. The Egyptian Goose has been established in Germany since 1980 and its population has already reached an impressive size. Egyptian Geese are now part of the usual picture of many suburban lakes and ponds. They are mostly sedentary. Even in winter they move only a few kilometers around. The long-necked and long-legged Egyptian Geese are about 70 centimeters tall and weigh up to two and a half kilos. The same colored sexes show a pronounced pair behavior. Egyptian Geese are quite aggressive towards intruders when leading young. Most of the time, however, there is a couple in the biotope that has been used to humans for a long time and is particularly trusting. Then even extreme wide angles can replace the longer focal lengths of 600 or even 800 mm lenses.

Although the Egyptian goose occupies a wide range of nesting sites in its African homeland, in addition to tree cavities, it mainly breeds on the ground here. The birds like to build their meager nests on islands or not far from the shore. During the roughly one-month breeding period, the birds are perfectly camouflaged with their dappled brown plumage. Up to ten eggs are incubated exclusively by the female. Some pairs breed up to three times a year. The slightly larger male, the gander, keeps watch near the nest. He only accompanies the goose during the breeding breaks and only takes part in family activities again when the young geese, the goslings, are being led. Sometimes the male draws attention to himself by constantly chattering. As a result, it quickly reveals its whereabouts to the photographer during the breeding season. The first young can sometimes be seen as early as April.

The Egyptian Goose is already known from ancient Egypt. There it was considered a symbol of fertility and life. The Nile was the lifeline of Egyptian life and the Egyptian goose was an important part of Egyptian culture. In ancient times, Egyptian gooses were considered sacred animals worshiped in honor of the god Sobek. Their meat and eggs were very popular in Egypt and consumed as a delicious delicacy. They were also given as offerings to the gods.

To cope with the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of the Palearctic Bird-Lens is keen to enrich the range of pictures of birds you can find in the western palearctic.  Trips to remote places like this one to capture images not only of rare birds of western palearctic were very successful. The nice image of the blog is only a first impression, what you will find in the gallery in the “Picture Shop” very soon. Just give a message, if could serve you with an image needed before the new pictures are online.


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