British Waterfowl Association

Spur-winged Goose

pair of White Spur-winged geese
White Spur-winged Geese - Ian Gereg

There are two subspecies recognized:

  • P. g. gambensisWhite or Gambian Spur-winged Goose of the Gambia to Ethiopia, south to Angola and the River Zambezi
  • P. g. nigerBlack Spur-winged Goose of southern Africa from Namibia and Zimbabwe to the Cape Provinces
Black Spur-winged Goose wing-stretching
Black Spur-winged Geese - Ian Gereg

Plectropterus gambensis

The Spur-winged Goose is one of those species best kept as a pair or trio (two females to one male), in an enclosure of their own. Despite a slightly gawky appearance, they are pretty adept at climbing, so this needs to be considered when building their pen. They will need some protection in the winter in the UK.

Although called a goose, taxonomically it belongs to the group known as True Ducks. The Spur-winged Goose was thought to have evolved somewhere between the shelducks and perching ducks. The fleshy featherless knob above the bill is much less prominent, or even absent, in the smaller of the 2 subspecies, the Black.

portrait of White Spur-winged Goose
White Spur-winged Goose - Ian Gereg

Because of their grumpy disposition in the breeding season, meaning they are usually kept on their own, there should be little risk of hybridisation. Hybrids have been reported though with Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptacus, Swan Goose Anser cygnoid, Upland Goose Chloephaga picta and Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna.

Black Spur-winged Goose - Ian Gereg

As one of the species that may dump-nest, the number of eggs in a nest can vary if there is more than one female in the enclosure. Each may lay 6 to 14 eggs and incubation is for 30 to 35 days. The male may hang around, enthusiastically defending his family, but the female does the rearing.