Have you seen our Spur-winged visitors at the dam yet?
The Spur-Winged Goose is the largest waterfowl found in Africa, they are part of the Anatidae family. It’s called a goose because of its large size, but it is, in fact, a type of duck. Because of this, it has its own “subfamily”, Plectropterinae.
It has a long neck and is mostly black with differing amounts of white plumage on its head, belly, and wings. It has a warty red bill, face, and legs. They have spurs on their wings which are sharp and sometimes poisonous. These spurs are used by the males to fight each other for the right to mate during the breeding season. Females also have spurs, but they are not as big or sharp as the male’s ones.
In flight, its white forewings stand out, this is what differentiates them from other waterfowl, combined with their contrasting black body.
It forages for vegetation in a variety of wetland habitats and moist grassland. These Geese absorb poisons from toxic beetles, (the Blister Beetle, which are found in certain parts of their habitat range), that they occasionally eat, making their own flesh deadly for humans to consume.
They are incredibly fast birds and can travel up to 142km per hour and sometimes give a thin whistle in flight, they are generally a quiet species. They live in wetlands or grasslands that are rich in water sources like lakes and rivers. They are social birds and can be found in flocks of as many as 50.
Unfortunately, these Geese are threatened by uncontrolled hunting and are traded at traditional medicine markets in Nigeria.
There is a large group of these birds that have been spotted at the dam every now and again. We would love to see them visiting us more on the farm.