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Egyptian goose now official in North America

Count those Egyptian geese!
Count those Egyptian geese!
Maureen Leong-Kee

Birders who enjoy keeping an "official" life list according to the guidelines of the American Birding Association can now count up to 986 species with the recent addition of the Egyptian goose to the list. On Aug. 26, 2014 the ABA Checklist Committee approved adding the bird, but only for the current established population in southeastern Florida. Egyptian geese are also found in regular feral populations in Texas, California and other locations, but those populations are not yet established enough to officially count as wild birds.

In southeastern Florida, the first Egyptian goose was recorded in 1994, and today there are an estimated 1,200 birds in the countable area (more Egyptian geese are found in central Florida, but those populations are outside the accepted count area for the species). These birds prefer open wetland areas and are usually found in urban and suburban parks and golf courses that have appropriate water features, lakes or marshes.

The Egyptian goose (Alpochen aegyptiaca) isn't really a goose, but a large duck. Native to sub-Saharan Africa and the Nile River basin, these birds are easily recognized by their bright yellow eyes surrounded by a thick brown patch, their black and pink bills, bright pink legs and the brownish body with a dark brown ring at the base of the neck. The upper part of the body is darker than the lower part, and the tail is black. While these birds don't migrate, they are nomadic as they seek out the best food sources and sufficient water.

In addition to the introduced feral populations of Egyptian geese in North America, these birds are scattered throughout Europe, and also found in the United Arab Emirates. Because they are a popular addition to domestic collections and exotic gardens, randomly escaped Egyptian geese could be seen nearly anywhere.

Have you seen the Egyptian goose? Share your sightings in the comments!