Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Green pygmy-goose

Nettapus pulchellus

Photo by Tony Ashton (Tyto Tony)

Common name:
green pygmy-goose (en); ganso-anão-australiano (pt); anserelle élégante (fr); gansito-australiano (es); Australische zwergente (de)

Order Anseriformes
Family Anatidae

This species is found in northern and eastern Australia and in southern New Guinea. Also in the Lesser Sundas, Moluccas and Sulawesi, but possibly only outside the breeding season.

These birds are 30-36 cm long and have a wingspan of 48-60 cm. Males tend to be larger, weighing 300-430 g while the females weigh 245-340 g.

The green pygmy-goose is mostly found in coastal freshwater lakes with abundant emergent vegetation, also using both permanent and seasonal inland lakes, marshes, saline lagoons and reservoirs.

They feed mainly on the seeds, leaves, flowers, buds and stems of water lilies and other aquatic plants, such as Nymphaea gigantea and Nymphaea capensis.

Green pygmy-geese breed in November-April, coinciding with the local wet season. They are monogamous and nest in a tree hollow or on the ground, always near water. The female lays 8-12 cream-coloured eggs, which she incubates alone for about 23-24 days while the male guards the nest aggressively. The chicks leave the nest soon after hatching and are able to feed themselves, but are only able to fly about 8 weeks after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as rather common to locally abundant, but highly dependent on seeds and flowers of water lilies, and the overall population might be below 10.000 individuals. The population is currently stable throughout most of this range, but local declines in Western Australia have been attributed to destruction of aquatic vegetation by cattle.

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