Plectropterus gambensis, Photo: Michael Lahanas
Plectropterus gambensis (Linnaeus, 1766)
The 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 on average 4-6.8 kg (8.8-15 lbs), and sometimes up to 7 kg (22 lbs), with males much larger than the females. They are the largest African waterfowl and are, on average, the world's largest "goose". They are mainly black, with a white face and large white wing patches. The long legs are flesh-coloured. 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 having a larger red facial patch extending back from the red bill, and a knob at the base of the upper mandible. 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.
This abundant and gregarious species feeds by grazing, but spends the middle part of the day resting by water.
The Spur-winged Goose is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
1. ^ http://www.waza.org/virtualzoo/factsheet.php?id=212-002-034-001&view=Anseriformes
* BirdLife International (2004). Plectropterus gambensis. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License