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Spurwinged goose

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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wildtuinman
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Spurwinged goose

Unread postby wildtuinman » Thu Apr 28, 2005 6:35 am

In afrikaans: Wilde makou.

I have heard that this in fact is not a makou or a goose but a duck. In fact the largest in the world.

Can anyone confirm this for me?
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Unread postby francoisd » Thu Apr 28, 2005 9:05 am

Below some information on the Spur-winged goose. From this is seems that it is still a goose although it share some characteristics with certain duck species.

The Spur-winged Goose, Plectropterus gambensis, is a large African bird in the family Anatidae, related to the geese and the shelducks, but distinct from both of these in a number of anatomical features, and therefore treated in its own subfamily, the Plectropterinae. It occurs in wetlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

Anatidae is the biological family that includes the ducks and most duck-like waterfowl, such as geese and swan. These are birds that are modified for swimming, floating on the water surface, and in some cases diving in at least shallow water.

They have webbed feet and bills which are flattened to a greater or lesser extent. Their feathers are excellent at shedding water due to special oils. Duck, eider and goose feathers and down have long been popular for bedspreads, pillows, sleeping bags and coats. The members of this family also have long been used for food.

While the status of the Anatidae as a family is straightforward, and there is little debate about which species properly belong to it, the relationships of the different tribes and subfamilies within it are poorly understood.

The Family Anatidae consists of various Subfamilies as shown below.

Dendrocygninae: whistling ducks
Thalassorninae: White-backed Duck
Anserinae: swans and geese
Stictonettinae: Freckled Duck
Plectropterinae: Spur-winged Goose
Tadorninae: shelducks, sheldgeese and steamer-ducks
Anatinae: dabbling and diving ducks
Merginae: eiders, scoters, sawbills and other sea-ducks
Oxyurinae: stiff-tail ducks

The following show the location of the Spur-winged goose in this large family
Scientific classification: Spur-winged goose
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Subfamily: Plectropterinae
Genus: Plectropterus
Species: P. gambensis (Spur-winged goose)

The Spur-winged Goose is unmistakable, being a massive black and white bird which can get to 39" (100cm) in length. It is, in fact, the largest of Africa's waterfowl. It is mostly vegetarian (although it will take small fish) and forages on land.

These large Geese can weigh up to 6.8kg and posses a Spur on the elbow of each wing that is used in defence against predators. The have dark upper body feathers with a glossed bronze appearance. Their beaks are bright red and their legs pink.

The 1913 Webster dictionary gives the following definitions:
Spur-winged: Having one or more spurs on the bend of the wings.
Spur-winged goose: any one of several species of long-legged African geese of the genus Plectropterus and allied genera, having a strong spur on the bend of the wing, as the Gambo goose (P. gambensis) [know also as Spur-winged goose] and the Egyptian, or Nile, goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca

Some more information
Diet
These heavy geese eat a variety of aquatic vegetation, fruits and grasses.

Breeding
The pair build a large nest under cover where only the female incubates the eggs for around a month. During this time the male stays close by to defend the female, both sexes help rear the goslings (baby geese)

DID YOU KNOW?
Unlike most Geese, this species actually perches in trees.
Due to this fact Spur-winged geese was once included in the so called "perching ducks" although it is closer to the family Tadorninae which include the shelducks and sheldgeese.
Last edited by francoisd on Fri Mar 24, 2006 2:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby cybeR@NGER » Wed Jan 24, 2007 7:04 pm

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Unread postby Wild@Heart » Thu Jan 25, 2007 6:57 am

Saw this one on our way from Punda to Shingwedzi .. looked very impressive when it was flying.

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Unread postby katydownunder » Fri Jan 26, 2007 11:53 pm

Wonderful pic CR 8)

We saw this one on the way from Mopani to Skukuza.
I think you can see the size of it quite well in comparison to the other birds in the photo:

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Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Thu Apr 05, 2007 7:55 pm

This spur-winged goose, relaxing in a vlei, fell victim to my digiscope - impressive features up close!

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Unread postby Bush Baptist » Fri Apr 06, 2007 2:00 pm

We have seen spurwings in Bontebok Park also.
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Buglette » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:06 pm

Hi,
Please could someone confirm whether these are spur-winged geese. They were seen on a farm in the Bredasdorp area near Agulhas National Park. Hope the pics are clear enough for an ID.
Thanks, Buglette


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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby deefstes » Thu Mar 29, 2012 5:19 pm

Buglette wrote:Hi,
Please could someone confirm whether these are spur-winged geese. They were seen on a farm in the Bredasdorp area near Agulhas National Park. Hope the pics are clear enough for an ID.
Thanks, Buglette


Hi Buglette,

Yes, I can confirm that they are Spur-winged Geese - but not all of them; On the first picture there are also Egyptian Geese and on the second picture there are also cows :D
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Buglette » Fri Mar 30, 2012 10:28 am

Thanks Deefstes!

Believe it or not I had no problem identifying the cows. Just as well they don't fly! Things could get very messy below. :lol:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Great Dane » Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:07 pm

Came across this big bird on the S100 some 5km east of Satara. Presume it is a Spur-winged Goose, as no other candidates have been found, although a few things do not add up too well.

Was first confused by the very red head, although very different from my field guide it does not seem uncommon for Spur-winged Goose. The colour of the neck appears brown-ish rather than black, as for the red spot on the neck I guess is a wound :?

Anyone willing to confirm this a Spur-winged Goose or point me in the right direction?

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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby anne-marie » Mon Dec 31, 2012 6:08 pm

I agree :thumbs_up:
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Re: Identification Help - General Birds

Unread postby Great Dane » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:42 am

anne-marie wrote:I agree :thumbs_up:

Thanks AM

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Re: Spurwinged goose

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Fri May 09, 2014 8:51 am

I have always found spur-winged geese rather difficult to get close to. At very long distances they start to get wary and take to the wing when humans attempt to approach them. So, I was pleasantly treated by two sub-adult males with a close-up encounter on a small wetland in the newly opened Western Shores section of iSimangaliso (the protected areas around Lake St Lucia, NKZN).

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I got so close that I could shoot a full-frame portrait of one!

Image

I was surprised to read that the Spur-winged goose are believed to sometimes be poisonous to people, to the extent that eating one may result in death. Apparently some populations (Gambian geese in particular) feed on a poisonous member of the blister beetle group and then store the beetle’s poison in their own tissues. I could find no mention of the birds in South Africa showing similar traits. In fact, I found a delicious sounding recipe for Spur-winged goose, potatoes roasted in goose fat, broccoli-and-corn mousse, asparagus bundle with hollandaise sauce and baby carrots used by Sandra Bryant, a contestant on the TV show “Come Dine With Me”. :lol: :lol: :lol:

Anyhow, The extent of facial skin and knobs and tubercles on a spur-winged goose expands with age. The skin becomes bright red and swollen when in breeding, resulting in quite a fierce appearance.
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Re: Spurwinged goose

Unread postby naomi c » Fri May 09, 2014 12:27 pm

Beautiful photo's and interesting info - thanks for sharing!

We also visited the Western Shores (first time for us) during last week when we were in St Lucia. Really enjoyed it, especially the wetlands with the amazingly beautiful waterlilies! Saw plenty of Spur-winged Geese - all sub-adults.

The visit even produced a lifer for me - White-backed Duck! :dance:


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