Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Magpie goose

Anseranas semipalmata

Photo by Andy Burton (Flickr)

Common name:
magpie goose (en); ganso-preto-e-branco (pt); canaroie semipalmée (fr); ganso urraca (es); spaltfußgans (de)

Order Anseriformes
Family Anseranatidae

The magpie goose is a resident breeder in northern Australia and southern New Guinea. After a successful reintroduction project this species is now also present in Tasmania, where it had existed in the past.

This large waterbird is 70-90 cm long and has a wingspan of 150 cm. They can weigh up to 2 kg.

The magpie goose is found on a variety of tropical open wetlands such as floodplains, swamps and lagoons.

Their diet includes seeds of wetland sedges, rushes, grasses and other aquatic plants. Some small invertebrates may also be taken. In some areas they also eat rice, becoming some what of an agricultural pest.

They nest on the ground or over floating vegetation. The breeding season is usually from March to April, but may vary according to rainfall. Females lays 5-14 yellowish white eggs which are incubated for a period of 24-25 days. Some males mate with two females, all of which raise the young until fledging.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
With an estimated population of 1.000.000, the species is not threatened at present and has a controlled hunting season when numbers are large. Still, the magpie goose is affected by habitat loss due to the drainage of wetlands for agricultural and other human purposes. Degradation of habitat through water pollution and nest loss from trampling and overgrazing are other potential conservation issues.

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