Cape Barren Goose

Quick Facts

Length: 87 cm
Height: -
Weight: -
Colour: Pale grey with dark spots across the wings. Pink to deep red legs and black feet
Habitat: Offshore islands usually granite, areas of pasture, tussock grass or low scrub
Food: tussock grass, spear grass, herbs and succulents. Pasture grass including barley, clover and legumes
Predators: -
Status: Vulnerable in VIC & NSW. Rare - SA, Secure - WA, Not Present in NT & QLD
Cape Barren Goose

The Cape Barren Goose is a very large, pale grey goose with a relatively small head. Its stubby triangular bill is almost concealed by a very prominent greenish-yellow cere (skin above the bill). It has rows of large dark spots in lines across the scapulars (shoulders) and wing coverts. The legs are pink to deep red and the feet black. In flight it shows dark wingtips and along the trailing edge of the wings. It is also known as the Pig Goose.

The Cape Barren Goose is found on the south-eastern coast of Australia, the southern coast of Western Australia and in south-eastern Victoria. It is locally dispersive and has been introduced to Kangaroo Island.

The Cape Barren Goose is found on offshore islands, usually granite, in areas of pasture, tussock grass or low heathy scrub.

During the summer, the non-breeding geese generally leave the islands for the mainland where they feed on improved pasture.

The Cape Barren Goose is able to drink salty or brackish water, allowing many of them to remain on offshore islands all year round.

The Cape Barren Goose is a grazing bird, eating predominantly the common island tussock grass, Poa poiformis, as well as spear grass and various herbs and succulents. They also eat pasture grasses, including barley and clover, and legumes.

The Cape Barren Goose lays eggs in a nest in the tussocks of open grasslands. The nest is built by the male and lined with down. Each pair establishes a territory in autumn, prepares a nest and defends it noisily and determindly against other geese. This species is monogamous, and pair-bonds are life-long. The female incubates the eggs, and the young are brooded by both parents equally.

By the 1950s, numbers of the Cape Barren Goose were so low that biologists feared they may be close to extinction. Various initiatives have been taken which have increased the goose population to a level where they are no longer considered to be in danger. However they remain one of the world's rarest geese.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Wednesday 8th January, 2014


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