The Maned Goose

25th June 2010

Distribution: The Maned Goose used to be found essentially in eastern and south-western Australia. Yet, its range has expanded since European settlement, notably thanks to the land clearing that has increased its habitat. Today this species is widespread in Australia, including Tasmania.

Status: The Maned Goose is classifid as Least Concern by the IUCN. It is abundant in many parts of its range.

Habitat: The Maned Goose's habitat comprises grasslands, open woodlands, lightly wooded swamps, marshes, wetlands, wet and flooded pastures, lakes, dams and reservoirs near wooded areas. It is not limited to fresh waters, however, and is also found along the coast in inlets and bays.

This duck has adapted to the human presence and is also common on farmland with dams, as well as around rice fields, sewage ponds and in urban parks and other leafy suburban areas.

The Maned Goose is often found around deeper lakes that are disregarded by other waterbirds for foraginf, as this species prefers to forage on land.

General habits: The Maned Goose commonly associates in small flocks, notably for grazing around water courses and lakes.

It is a bit of an unusual duck, though, since it rarely swims, preferring to walk on land. It goes even as far as perching on logs or even in trees, and usually only takes to open water when it is disturbed and forced to do so.

Feeding habits: This species feeds on grasses, clover and other herbs, and occasionally, insects.

The Maned Goose is rarely seen on open water, preferring to forage in small groups by dabbling in shallow water, or in grasslands and crops.

Breeding habits: The Maned Goose forms monogamous breeding pairs that stay together year round.It breeds between September and November in the south of its range, after the rain in the north.

Nest: This bird nests in tree holes, above or near water. The same site is often reused from one year to another.

Eggs: The Maned Goose lays 8 to 10 eggs, sometimes up to 12. Eggs are incubated for 28 days.

Young: Maned Goose chicks, like other waterbirds, are covered with a waterproof down from birth, and can, thus, enter the water almost straight away. The nest is used for roughly 57 days, still. Both parents feed their babies and young ducks remain with them for another month after fledging.

Call: The female has a long, loud, rising: "gnow". The male's calls are shorter and higher pitched. Flocks chatter when feeding.

Description: The Maned Goose is a actually a medium sized (44 to 51 cm) "goose-like" duck with a short head. The Maned Goose is predominantly grey with a darker head and two black stripes along the back. The male has a dark brown head with a small dark mane, a mottled breast and a black lowert belly and undertail. The female's head is paler, she has white stripes above and below the eye, mottled underparts and white lower belly and undertail . Male and female's wings are grey with black primaries and a white speculum.

The Maned Goose can be distinguished from pygmy geese, Nettapus spp, which are smaller, have bold white face markings and are usually seen on water. Whistling ducks, Dendrocygna spp, have longer legs and necks, larger more duck-like bills and tend to walk more upright.

When in flight, the Maned Goose is easy to identify, as it is the only duck with white secondary feathers and dark wingtips.

Did you know: Traditionally placed in the Anatinae (dabbling duck) subfamily, the Maned Goose might actually belong to the Tadorninae (shelduck) subfamily; and the Ringed Teal could be its closest living relative.

The Maned Goose is the only living species in the genus Chenonetta. The flightless New Zealand species Chenonetta finschi (Finsch's Duck) - which became extinct before scientists could properly survey the New Zealand avifauna, but possibly as late as 1870 - has been determined to belong to Chenonetta.

The Maned Goose has benefited from the creation of dams and irrigated crops on farmlands. It can sometimes damage crops and pastures.

The Maned Goose is also known as: Maned duck, Maned wood duck, Wood duck, Australian wood duck [English]; Manengans [Dutch]; Mähnenente [German]; Canard à crinière [French]; Pato de Crin [Spanish]