Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Alopochen aegyptiaca
(Egyptian goose)

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Datasheet

Alopochen aegyptiaca (Egyptian goose)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 13 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Alopochen aegyptiaca
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Egyptian goose
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Substantial non-native populations have become established in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK and appear to be expanding rapidly, with potential deleterious effects on other wildfowl and on other hole-nesti...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Egyptian goose, an adult bird in South Derbyshire, UK. Originally introduced [in the UK] as an ornamental wildfowl, it has subsequently escaped into the wild and now breeds in a feral state.
TitleAdult
CaptionEgyptian goose, an adult bird in South Derbyshire, UK. Originally introduced [in the UK] as an ornamental wildfowl, it has subsequently escaped into the wild and now breeds in a feral state.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Egyptian goose, an adult bird in South Derbyshire, UK. Originally introduced [in the UK] as an ornamental wildfowl, it has subsequently escaped into the wild and now breeds in a feral state.
AdultEgyptian goose, an adult bird in South Derbyshire, UK. Originally introduced [in the UK] as an ornamental wildfowl, it has subsequently escaped into the wild and now breeds in a feral state.Colin Ryall

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Alopochen aegyptiaca (Linnaeus, 1766)

Preferred Common Name

  • Egyptian goose

Other Scientific Names

  • Alopochen aegyptiacus Cramp & Simmons, 1977
  • Anas aegyptiaca Linnaeus, 1766

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: husice nilska
  • Denmark: nilgas
  • Finland: niilnhansu
  • France: ouette d'egypte
  • Germany: Nilgans
  • Hungary: nilusi Iud
  • Iceland: nilarond
  • Italy: oca egiziana
  • Netherlands: nijlgans
  • Norway: niland
  • Poland: ges egipska
  • Portugal: ganso do egipto
  • Spain: ganso del nilo
  • Sweden: nilgas

Summary of Invasiveness

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Substantial non-native populations have become established in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the UK and appear to be expanding rapidly, with potential deleterious effects on other wildfowl and on other hole-nesting birds.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Anseriformes
  •                         Family: Anatidae
  •                             Genus: Alopochen
  •                                 Species: Alopochen aegyptiaca

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Alopochen aegyptiaca, the Egyptian goose, is a monotypic species that occupies its own genus and has no close relatives extant. Its specific name has recently been corrected from aegyptiacus to aegyptiaca to comply with conventions on gender agreement (David and Gosselin, 2002). Congeners on Mauritius (A. mauritianus) and Réunion (A. kervazoi) were hunted to extinction during the seventeenth century, and the Madagascar shelduck A. sirabensis is prehistoric.

Description

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A. aegyptiaca is a highly distinctive pale foxy-brown goose with long pink legs and a pinkish bill. There are variable dark reddish-brown patches around the eyes and another on the lower breast. In flight, the wings are broad and show extensive white across the covert area of the inner wing. Calls are loud and have a distinctive braying quality. For further details, see e.g. Cramp and Simmons (1977), Kear (2005).

Distribution

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There is no systematic information on where A. aegyptiaca is held in captivity, although it may be widespread in wildfowl collections. Partly in consequence, information is also likely to be poor on where isolated escapes or releases have occurred. The species is recorded to have been native in parts of the Danube Valley in southeast Europe until the early eighteenth century (Cramp and Simmons, 1977; Blair et al., 2008), and in the Middle East (Vaurie, 1965); the extent of this distribution in relation to current national borders is incompletely known, however.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

ChinaAbsent, unreliable recordIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009Primary source not traced
IsraelLocalisedIntroduced1994Banks et al., 200830-50 breeding pairs; vagrants from native range may also occur
OmanPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
SyriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
United Arab EmiratesPresentIntroduced1976BirdLife International, 2009100-200 breeding pairs

Africa

AlgeriaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
AngolaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
BeninPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
BotswanaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Burkina FasoPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
BurundiPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
CameroonPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Central African RepublicPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
ChadPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
CongoPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Congo Democratic RepublicPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Côte d'IvoirePresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
DjiboutiPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
EgyptPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Equatorial GuineaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
EritreaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
EthiopiaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
GabonPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
GambiaPresentNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
GhanaPresent, few occurrencesNativeBirdLife International, 2009
GuineaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Guinea-BissauPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
KenyaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
LesothoPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
MalawiPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
MaliPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
MauritaniaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
MauritiusLocalisedIntroducedmid 1950sBanks et al., 2008
MozambiquePresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
NamibiaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
NigerPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
NigeriaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
RwandaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
SenegalPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Sierra LeonePresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
SomaliaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
South AfricaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
SudanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
SwazilandPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
TanzaniaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
TogoPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
TunisiaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
UgandaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
ZambiaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
ZimbabwePresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009

North America

USAPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced<1928 Not invasive Long, 1981
-FloridaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1960s Not invasive FWC, 2009

Europe

AustriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000
BelgiumWidespreadIntroduced1975Banks et al., 2008800-1100 breeding pairs
CyprusPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009Records may include non-native individuals
Czech RepublicPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedsince 1999 Not invasive Banks et al., 2008
DenmarkLocalisedIntroducedsince 1999 Invasive Banks et al., 2008Breeds
FranceLocalisedIntroduced1800sDubois, 2007210-235 individuals in 2006
GermanyLocalisedIntroduced1866Bauer and Woog, 20082200-2600 breeding pairs
HungaryAbsent, formerly presentNativeearly 1700s Not invasive Cramp and Simmons, 1977
ItalyLocalisedIntroduced1989 Not invasive Banks et al., 2008
MaltaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
NetherlandsWidespreadIntroduced1967Banks et al., 20084500-5000 breeding pairs in 1998-2000
PolandPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive NOBANIS, 2009
RomaniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000Native population extinct during 1600s
SerbiaAbsent, formerly presentearly 1700sNativeBlair et al., 2000Vojvodina
SpainPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Banks et al., 2008
SwedenLocalisedIntroduced2003 Invasive Blair et al., 2000
SwitzerlandLocalisedIntroduced2003Banks et al., 20081-2 breeding pairs
UKLocalised1600sIntroducedBanks et al., 20082000+ individuals

Oceania

Australia
-Western AustraliaAbsent, formerly present1956Introduced< 1956 Not invasive Long, 1981Rottnest Island
New ZealandEradicatedIntroduced1860 Not invasive Long, 1981Hawke's Bay

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. aegyptiaca was first imported to the UK in the late seventeenth century (Lever, 2005) and became a popular ornamental species on private estates (Lever, 2009). More recently, similar introductions have been made in Belgium and possibly Germany and other European countries. Birds also escaped from zoos and other collections in Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius and probably elsewhere. Within western Europe, burgeoning populations, especially in the Netherlands and Belgium, have spread naturally to Germany and France and have perhaps been responsible for sightings in Italy and Romania. The largest non-native population, numbering at least 4500 pairs in 1998–2000 (Banks et al., 2008) is in the Netherlands, where breeding was first recorded as recently as 1967 (Lensink, 1999).

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Australia < 1956 No Long (1981)
Austria   Self-propelled (pathway cause) No Blair et al. (2000)
Belgium 1975 Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Banks et al. (2008)
Czech Republic Since 1999 No Banks et al. (2008)
Denmark Since 1999 Self-propelled (pathway cause) Yes Banks et al. (2008)
Florida 1960s Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) No FWC (2009)
France 1800s Yes Dubois (2007)
Germany 1866 Yes Bauer and Woog (2008)
Israel 1994 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) Yes Blair et al. (2000)
Italy 1989 Self-propelled (pathway cause) No Blair et al. (2000)
Mauritius mids 1950s Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) Yes Banks et al. (2008)
Netherlands 1967 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) Yes SOVON (2002)
New Zealand 1860 No Long (1981) Later destroyed
Poland   No NOBANIS (2009)
Romania   No Blair et al. (2000)
Spain   No Banks et al. (2008)
Sweden 2003 Yes Blair et al. (2000)
Switzerland 2003 No Banks et al. (2008)
Syria   No BirdLife International (2009)
UK 1600s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Lever (2005)
United Arab Emirates 1976 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) Yes Banks et al. (2008)
USA before 1928 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) No Long (1981)

Risk of Introduction

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This species has proved to be successful as a non-native and it is likely that further introductions would lead to new invasive populations being established.

Habitat

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A. aegyptiaca occupies a broad range of wetland habitats including lakes, ponds, reservoirs, estuaries, sewage works, swampy woodland and meadows. In its native range, the species occurs at up to 4000 m above sea level in Ethiopia (Kear, 2005).

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Reservoirs Principal habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Hybridisation has occurred between A. aegyptiaca and the Orinoco goose Neochen jubata (N. jubatus) in captivity, and apparent hybrids with mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), ruddy shelduck (Tadorna ferruginea), Canada goose (Branta canadensis) and domestic geese have been observed in the wild.
 
Reproductive Biology
 
A. aegyptiaca nests on the ground, often on small islands, but also in burrows, in caves, among reeds, in trees and on buildings, at up to 3 km from water (Kear, 2005). In trees, it may use large holes or old stick nests of other birds, with a maximum recorded height above ground of 60 m (Kear, 2005). The young leap or slide to the ground from elevated nests within hours of hatching and are led to water by the adults.
 
Physiology and Phenology
 
Pairs may nest at any season across much of the native African range but nesting is strongly seasonal in Europe (Kear, 2005). In the UK, most lay in March or April and are earlier nesters than other non-native geese; moult gatherings occur during July and August.
 
Nutritional Requirements
 
Egyptian geese graze grasses, growing crops and aquatic plants, and also take leaves, seeds, tubers and possibly some animal material (Cramp and Simmons, 1977).

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Am - Tropical monsoon climate Preferred Tropical monsoon climate ( < 60mm precipitation driest month but > (100 - [total annual precipitation(mm}/25]))
As - Tropical savanna climate with dry summer Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in summer) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Tolerated Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
54 34

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Many subpopulations in Africa have seasonal moult migrations after breeding and gather in hundreds or thousands at selected water bodies (Milstein, 1993). The species may become nomadic or dispersive in response to the drying of temporary pools and, conversely, seasonal rains cause local movements and range expansion, for example northwards into the Sahel region. Movements of more than 1000 km have been recorded (Underhill et al., 1999), and may be responsible for occasional appearances of the species in North Africa and the Mediterranean (Milstein, 1993).
 
Accidental Introduction
 
Accidental introduction of A. aegyptiaca will have occurred wherever the species is kept in captivity, as occasional individuals have escaped from wildfowl collections, or young hatched within the collection have been left unpinioned and dispersed away.
 
Intentional Introduction
 
Intentional introductions of A. aegyptiaca have been made for ornamental reasons, but not for hunting as the species is regarded as poor quarry and not good eating. It is likely that the scale of intentional releases is now very small.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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A. aegyptiaca feeds on agricultural land and in parts of Africa it can cause agricultural damage (Kear, 2005), although this has not been quantified. No economic impacts have yet been reported from the non-native range.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitat

Large groups of A. aegyptiaca may cause physical damage to habitats through grazing or trampling, and their droppings may cause eutrophication of still waters.

Impact on Biodiversity

Non-native A. aegyptiaca share feeding habitats with mallards and other ducks, and with coots Fulica atra, and may compete with them for food or territories. Competition for nest sites with hole-nesting species such as the barn owl Tyto alba is also a possibility. On islands, such as Mauritius, Egyptian geese could pose a threat to native endemic flora and fauna.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Has a broad native range
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
  • Long lived
  • Has high reproductive potential
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Altered trophic level
  • Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Fouling
  • Herbivory/grazing/browsing
  • Hybridization
  • Interaction with other invasive species
  • Trampling
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
  • Difficult/costly to control

Uses

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Economic Value

A. aegyptiaca
is little used for food and thus probably has negligible economic value.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Confusion of A. aegyptiaca with the rufous-bodied shelducks Tadorna ferruginea and T. cana is possible, especially as these species also show white on the forewing, but both are smaller and have a dark bill and legs (Kear, 2005). The Orinoco goose Neochen jubata (or N. jubatus) of South America is quite similar, but lacks eye and breast patches and when flying shows white secondary flight feathers.

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

SPS measures

Holders of wildfowl collections should be encouraged as far as possible to prevent further escapes and releases of species such as A. aegyptiaca.
 
Public awareness

There is clearly a need for increasing public awareness of the dangers of introducing non-native geese to new areas and of translocating them within areas where they already occur.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further and more detailed information is needed on the impacts of the species, to strengthen the case for control measures and to discourage further introductions.

References

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Banks AN; Wright LJ; Maclean IMD; Hann C; Rehfisch MM, 2008. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 489.]

Bauer HG; Woog F, 2008. Non-native and naturalized bird species (neozoa) in Germany, part I: occurrence, population size and status. Vogelwarte, 46:157-194.

BirdLife International, 2009. Species factsheet: Alopochen aegyptiaca. Species factsheet: Alopochen aegyptiaca. unpaginated. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=396&m=0

Blair MJ; McKay H; Musgrove AJ; Rehfisch MM, 2000. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 229.]

Borrow N; Demey R, 2001. Birds of Western Africa. London, UK: Christopher Helm, unpaginated.

Cramp S; Simmons KEL, 1977. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: the birds of the Western Palearctic. Volume I. Ostrich to ducks. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

David N; Gosselin M, 2002. Gender agreement of avian species names. Bull. Brit. Orn. Club, 122(1):14-68.

Dubois PJ, 2007. Les espèces d'oiseaux allochtones en France. Paris, France: LPO, unpaginated.

FWC, 2009. Egyptian goose - Alopochen aegyptiaca. Egyptian goose - Alopochen aegyptiaca. Tallahassee, Florida, USA: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, unpaginated. http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Nonnative_EgyptianGoose.htm

Kear J, 2005. Ducks, Geese and Swans. Volume 1. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Lensink R, 1999. Aspects of the biology of Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus colonizing the Netherlands. Bird Study, 46:195-204.

Lever C, 2005. Naturalised birds of the world. London, UK: T & AD Poyser.

Lever C, 2009. The naturalized animals of Britain and Ireland. London, UK: New Holland Publishers.

Long JL, 1981. Introduced birds of the world. Newton Abbot, UK: David & Charles.

Milstein P le S, 1993. A study of the Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus. Pretoria, South Africa: University of Pretoria.

NOBANIS, 2009. North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Gateway to information on Invasive Alien species in North and Central Europe. http://www.nobanis.org/default.asp

SOVON, 2002. Atlas van de Nederlandse Broedvogels 1998-2000. Leiden, Netherlands: Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis, KNNV Uitgeverij & European Invertebrate Survey-Nederland, unpaginated. [Nederlandse Fauna 5.]

Underhill LG; Tree AJ; Oschadleus HD; Parker V, 1999. Review of ring recoveries of waterbirds in southern Africa. Review of ring recoveries of waterbirds in southern Africa. Cape Town, South Africa: ADU, UCT.

Vaurie C, 1965. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna. Non-Passeriformes. London, UK: HF & G Witherby.

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionhttp://myfwc.com

Organizations

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World: BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge, CB3 0NA, UK, http://www.birdlife.org

Contributors

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31/08/08 Original text by:

John Marchant, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK

Distribution Maps

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