It swims well, and in flight looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name. It is 63–73 cm (25–29 in) long.
The sexes of this species are identical in plumage but the males average slightly larger. There is a fair amount of variation in plumage tone, with some birds greyer and others browner, but this is not sex- or age-related. A large part of the wings of mature birds is white, but in repose the white is hidden by the wing coverts. When it is aroused, either in alarm or aggression, the white begins to show. In flight or when the wings are fully spread in aggression, the white is conspicuous.
This is a largely terrestrial species, which will also perch readily on trees and buildings. Egyptian geese typically eat seeds, leaves, grasses, and plant stems. Occasionally, they will eat locusts, worms, or other small animals.
Both sexes are aggressively territorial towards their own species when breeding and frequently pursue intruders into the air, attacking them in aerial “dogfights”. Neighbouring pairs may even kill another’s offspring for their own offsprings’ survival as well as for more resources.
This species will nest in a large variety of situations, especially in holes in mature trees in parkland. The female builds the nest from reeds, leaves and grass, and both parents take turns incubating eggs. Egyptian geese usually pair for life. Both the male and female care for the offspring until they are old enough to care for themselves.
In the wild
This species breeds widely in Africa except in deserts and dense forests, and is locally abundant. They are found mostly in the Nile Valley and south of the Sahara. While not breeding, it disperses somewhat, sometimes making longer migrations northwards into arid regions of the Sahel. It has also been introduced elsewhere: Great Britain, the Netherlands,France, and Germany have self-sustaining populations which are mostly derived from escaped ornamental birds. Escapes have also bred on occasion in other places, such asFlorida and New Zealand. The British population dates back to the 18th century, though only formally added to the British list in 1971. In Britain, it is found mainly in East Anglia, in parkland with lakes. It was officially declared a pest in the U.K. in 2009.
Egyptian geese eat various plant matter, including seeds, leaves, shoots, grain, grasses, plant stems and crops. They may also eat locusts, worms, winged termites and other small animals. They often graze on land, feeding, but will also forage in shallow water, taking algae and aquatic plants.
Ducks and geese generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.