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Magpie Goose

(Anseranas semipalmata)
Alternate name(s): "Pied Goose", "Black-and-white Goose", "Semi-palmated Goose", "Wild Goose"
Aboriginal name(s): "muldrie"

Size: 75-100 cm (male), 70-80 cm (female); wing span 1.5-1.6 m
Weight: 1.4-3.2 kg
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Magpie Goose at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information




Frontal portrait of a male(?) Magpie Goose
[Kakadu NP, NT, October 1997]

Magpie Geese at Narrabri Lake; probably a male bird at the centre and two females left and right
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2008]


Close-up frontal view of a female(?) Magpie Goose on water (photo courtesy of J. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2014]

Frontal view of a female Magpie Goose on water (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2014]

This frontal view of a female Magpie Goose clearly shows the half-webbed ("semi-palmated") feet (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Wynnum, QLD, December 2017]

Near-lateral view of a female Magpie Goose
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, August 2013]

Lateral view of a female Magpie Goose
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Lateral view of a female Magpie Goose stretching its wings
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, December 2010]

Female(?) Magpie Goose paddling away
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Dorsal view of a female(?) Magpie Goose
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2010]

Magpie Geese on the edge of a billabong (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Kakadu NP, NT, November 2014]

Magpie Geese on the edge of an ephemeral wetland (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Near Baradine, NSW, 1983]

Magpie Geese together with Radjah Shelducks and Grey Teals (photo courtesy of M. Mearns)
[Karumba, QLD, September 2019]

Female(?) Magpie Goose just after take-off
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, September 2013]

Clear view of the underwing pattern of a Magpie Goose in flight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2015]

Flock of Magpie Geese landing (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Goondiwindi, QLD, February 2013]

In this dorsal view of a landing Magpie Goose one can see clearly the "semi-palmated" (half-webbed) feet
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2013]


Lateral view of a juvenile Magpie Goose; note the absence of a knob (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Knuckey Lagoon, Darwin, NT, August 2018]

Lateral view of a juvenile Magpie Goose on water (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Knuckey Lagoon, Darwin, NT, August 2018]

Near-dorsal view of a juvenile Magpie Goose, centre, in comparison with two adults (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Knuckey Lagoon, Darwin, NT, August 2018]

Adult Magpie Geese, right, with two juveniles on the left (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, July 2018]

Magpie Geese, in part juveniles with mottled grey-brown fronts, together with a Royal Spoonbill in non-breeding plumage (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[McMinns Lagoon, near Darwin, NT, September 2018]

Magpie Goose nursery (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Black Duck Reserve, Murrumba Downs, near Brisbane, QLD, September 2017]

Female(?) Magpie Goose with two chicks on the retreat after being disturbed
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Here a closer look at the two little Magpie Goose rascals
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2010]

Adult female(?) Magpie Goose with a chick
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Here a look into the Magpie "rookery" - a total of three chicks were counted
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Seen again on another day, now with all three chicks in sight
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2010]

Here the Magpie Goose chicks had grown to about half the size of adult birds
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, January 2011]

Photo of the youngsters taken later; by now they are very similar to adults, but still mostly grey where adults are white
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2011]

This family of Magpie Geese with goslings was observed when the first autumnal cold change of the season hit the area and other aquatic birds had already moulted into their non-breeding plumages
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, March 2012]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Mar - May Eggs: 6 - 9 Incubation period: 23 - 28 days Fledging age: 21 - 28 days

The breeding season of Magpie Geese depends on geographical latitude and weather conditions. In the tropical North of the continent they breed after the end of the rainy season, in the South-east typically in spring, but possibly any time after substantial rainfall.

Male Magpie Geese can have several females lay eggs in their nests.

Nest building: Male(?) Incubation: Male & females Dependent care: Females & male


"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Trampled reeds, grass, sedges, rushes Height above ground: N/A

Nests are trampled platforms above shallow water, with some extra vegetation laid on top.

Female Magpie Goose on its nest (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Wynnum, QLD, December 2017]

Closer view of a female Magpie Goose on its nest (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Wynnum, QLD, December 2017]

Female Magpie Goose standing on the edge of a nest platform
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2015]


"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 74 x 50 mm Colour: Creamy-white, later stained brownish Shape: Tapered oval


Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Nomadic/dispersive Elementary unit: Flock

Note that Magpie Geese, although mainly aquatic birds, do not rest in water overnight. Instead, they roost in high trees, typically River Red Gums or other eucalypts, often along watercourses.

Magpie Geese going to roost (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Hasties Swamp, near Atherton, QLD, January 2012]

Magpie Geese settling in for the night in trees on a small island in a fresh water lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, July 2014]

Magpie Geese resting during the day in shallow water in a fresh water lake
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, June 2016]

We have observed the mother Magpie Geese sending their chicks out onto open grassland for grazing.

Magpie Geese "nursery" moving on
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, October 2016]

This shot shows a small flock of Magpie Geese living in the shallow water of a freshwater lake, resting on mudflats and shielded from observers by reeds; the photo was taken from an elevated position in a tree about 50 m away
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2013]

Small flock of Magpie Geese sheltering from high wind (photo courtesy of M. Windeyer)
[Gilgandra, NSW, October 2016]

For reasons unknown to us, this Magpie Goose is being harassed by an Australian Magpie (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Carrara, Gold Coast, QLD, February 2015]

Food, Diet

Like all other geese, ducks and swans, Magpie Geese are vegetarian. Magpie Geese feed on underwater plants. Note that the chicks seen above were sent out to graze on grass in a park.

Magpie Geese that have just been digging in mud for food (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Gatton, QLD, August 2017]

Magpie-Geese feeding in shallow water
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, November 2012]

Magpie-Geese feeding in submerged grassland
[Fogg Dam CR, NT, August 2014]

Magpie Geese not only live on water and feed under water - they also drink the wet stuff...
[Narrabri Lake, NSW, April 2011]


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

maggoos_20200525.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls © MD
maggoos_20151015_2.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls (flock) © MD
maggoos_20151015_3.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls (flock) © MD
maggoos_20170626.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls (flock) © MD
maggoos_20170626_2.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls (flock) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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