Magpie geese are found only in their native Australia and the neighboring island of New Guinea, primarily in Pacific coastal areas. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005)
Most magpie geese are found in wet grasslands, swamps, and other marshlands along the coast and rarely stray inland. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005)
Magpie geese are black on the head, neck, tail, and wings. The rest of the body is white, with orange feet and legs. Magpie geese have only partially webbed feet and the head has a fairly obvious "knob" on it. Juveniles lack this "knob" and the white areas on their bodies are more gray. Females tend to be smaller than males. Their body mass varies between 2 and 3 kg and their length ranges from 70 to 90 cm. The average wingspan is 1.5 meters. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005; "National Geographic", 2008; "NSW Threatened Species Website", 2005)
Magpie geese sometimes breed in pairs, but they usually breed in groups of three. Each group of three consists of a male and two females. In each trio, the two females are usually related to each other. Magpie geese breed seasonally. Information on mate attracting and mate guarding could not be found. (Kear, 2005; "Animal Bytes", 2008; "Parks and Wildlife Commision of the Northern Territory", 2007; Kear, 2005)
Magpie geese clutch size is between 3 and 8 eggs. They breed seasonally at the end of the wet season (February-June) in the floodplains that they live in. The incubation period varies from 24-35 days and fledgling occurs after about 3 months. To feed their young while they are still in the nests, the parents can bend nearby tall grass so the chicks can eat the seeds. All parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs and caring for the young. Young are cared for by the parents until the following wet season. Average mass at hatching is 104.2 grams. Sexual maturity occurs at approximately 2 years of age. ("Animal Bytes", 2008; "Discover Life", 2008; "Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005; "National Geographic", 2008)
Both parents (and the second female when in trios) care for the young. They take turns incubating the eggs as well as providing food and protection for the hatched young. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005)
Magpie geese can live to be over 32 years in the wild. ("Animal Bytes", 2008)
Magpie geese are social animals, living in flocks. These flocks travel together when migrating between areas during the wet and dry seasons. These geese swim and wade in the swamps and wetlands they inhabit. While raising chicks, they generally live in groups of three, consisting of one male and two females. They may roost in wooded areas. Their call is a loud "honk." ("Discover Life", 2008; "National Geographic", 2008)
During the dry season, magpie geese generally concentrate near the Mary River and the South Alligator River. During the wet season, they may spread to other rivers for breeding. Most movements relate to changes in food availability or breeding habitat. Specific home range sizes are not reported. (Frith and Davies, 1961)
Magpie geese communicate vocally with loud "honks." These geese may shake their wings when feeling threatened or after antagonistic encounters. ("Observations on the Horned Screamer", 1973)
Magpie geese mainly eat swamp grass seeds, blades of dry grasses, and bulbs of spike-rush. They also eat large quantities of wild rice. These geese feed in large, noisy flocks. Parents help their chicks eat by bending down tall grass towards the nest so the chicks can eat the seeds from it. Although they are mainly herbivores, they incidentally ingest occasional small invertebrates. During the dry season, magpie geese must rely on roots and bulbs as their primary source of food. During the wet season, they can switch to grass as their main food. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005; "Parks and Wildlife Commision of the Northern Territory", 2007; Frith and Davies, 1961)
Eggs and hatchlings are heavily preyed on by birds of prey, dingoes, snakes, and other small, terrestrial predators. Adult magpie geese are rarely preyed on, although they are hunted by humans. (Frith and Davies, 1961)
Magpie geese compete for resources with other seed-eaters in wetlands and act as prey for predators in the same areas. (Frith and Davies, 1961)
Humans hunt magpie geese for sport and for food.
There are no known adverse effects of magpie geese on humans.
In Australia, magpie geese are listed as "secure" (meaning "of least concern"), but each territory also has its own status. Magpie geese are listed as "endangered" in Victoria and South Australia, "secure" in Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia, and "vulnerable" in New South Wales. They are considered "least concern" by the IUCN red list. ("Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet", 2005)
Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Rachael Wilber (author), Northern Michigan University, Alec R. Lindsay (editor, instructor), Northern Michigan University.
Living in Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, New Guinea and associated islands.
uses sound to communicate
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
the nearshore aquatic habitats near a coast, or shoreline.
helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
an animal that mainly eats seeds
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
specialized for swimming
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
generally wanders from place to place, usually within a well-defined range.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
having more than one female as a mate at one time
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
uses sight to communicate
young are relatively well-developed when born
2008. "Animal Bytes" (On-line). Accessed April 16, 2008 at http://www.seaworld.org/Animal-info/animal-bytes/animalia/eumetazoa/coelomates/deuterostomes/chordata/craniata/aves/anseriformes/magpie-goose.htm.
2008. "Discover Life" (On-line). Accessed April 16, 2008 at http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20o?search=Anseranatidae.
2005. "Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) Fact sheet" (On-line). Birds in Backyards. Accessed March 18, 2008 at http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/finder/display.cfm?id=70.
Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW). 2005. "NSW Threatened Species Website" (On-line). Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://threatenedspecies.environment.nsw.gov.au/tsprofile/profile.aspx?id=10056&print=yes.
2008. "National Geographic" (On-line). Accessed April 05, 2008 at http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/kakaducam/.
1973. "Observations on the Horned Screamer" (On-line). Accessed April 18, 2008 at http://elibrary.unm.edu/sora/Wilson/v086n01/p0043-p0050.html.
2007. "Parks and Wildlife Commision of the Northern Territory" (On-line pdf). Accessed April 16, 2008 at http://nreta.nt.gov.au/nreta/wildlife/programs/pdf/management_program_for_magpie_goose.pdf.
Frith, H., S. Davies. 1961. Ecology of the Magpie Goose, Anseranas semipalmata Latham (Anatidae). Wildlife Research, 6/2: 91-141. Accessed March 18, 2008 at http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/144/paper/CWR9610091.htm.
Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, Geese and Swans. Oxford University: Oxford. Accessed April 16, 2008 at http://books.google.com/books?id=MfrdBcKd79wC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72&dq=magpie-geese+mating&source=web&ots=RT_32goQiG&sig=EsqKK_dz81pXL2l_irEd58WRpCA&hl=en#PPP1,M1.
Whitehead, P., K. Saalfeld. 2000. Nesting phenology of magpie geese (Anseranas semipalmata) in monsoonal northern Australia: responses to antecedent rainfall. Journal of Zoology, 251: 495-508. Accessed March 18, 2008 at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&aid=54323.
Whitehead, P., K. Tschimer. 1991. Patterns of Egg-Laying and Variation in Egg Size in the Magpie Goose Anseranas semipalmata: Evidence for Intra-specific Nest Parasitism. Emu, 91/1: 26-31. Accessed March 18, 2008 at http://www.publish.csiro.au/nid/96/paper/MU9910026.htm.