Goose Information / OverviewPhotos of the Different Goose Species for IdentificationSpecies Index of Geese

Spur-winged Goose

Spur-Winged GooseThe Spur-winged Goose, (Plectropterus gambensis), is a large 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.



Adults are 75-115 cm (30-45 in) long and weigh about 5.5 kg (12 lbs), with males much larger than the females. They are the largest African waterfowl amd are, on average, the world’s largest “goose”. These geese are mainly black, with a white face and large white wing patches. The long legs are flesh-colored.

The nominate race P. g. gambensis has extensive white on the belly and flanks, but the subspecies P. g. niger, which occurs south of the Zambezi River, has only a small white belly patch.

The male differs from the female, not only in size, but also in that it has a larger red facial patch extending back from the red bill, and a knob at the base of the upper beak.


Spur-winged GooseCall / Vocalization

This is a quiet species, but may give a thin whistle in flight.



The large nest is usually concealed in vegetation near water, but tree holes, other cavities, and old Hamerkop nests may be used. The spur on the bend of the wing may be used in disputes.



The Spur-winged Goose is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.


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Diet / Feeding

Spur-winged Geese feed by grazing and spends the middle part of the day resting by water.

Ducks and geese generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks and Geese …

We all enjoy waterfowl and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around – and it works! Who doesn’t like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird – so it’s best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves – providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.


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