The Spur Winged Goose male differs from the female, not only in size, but also in having a larger red facial patch extending back from the red bill, and a knob at the base of the upper mandible. This is generally a quiet species. Typically, only males make a call, which consists of a soft bubbling cherwit when taking wing or alarmed. During breeding displays or in instances of alarm, both sexes may utter other inconspicuous calls. This bird is often poisonous due to its diet of blister beetles. The poison, cantharidin, is held within the tissue of the fowl resulting in poisoning of those that eat the cooked goose. 10 mg of cantharidin can kill a human.
Appearance: – The male Spur winged Goose has a blackish-brown head and neck, large pinkish-red beak with pale tip and frontal knob, bare facial skin in front of eyes, and upper neck, dark-brown eyes, blackish upper-side and tail, white underparts, black and white wings, and legs and feet are pink. The smaller female has a smaller frontal knob, and less bare facial skin.
Size: – Typical Adult is 30-45 inches.
Food: – Aquatic plants, sedges, seeds, grazing on grasses, grain, crops, and occasionally taking small fish and insects.
Habitat: – Wetlands, floodplains, grasslands, rivers, lakes, marshes, and reservoirs throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
Breeding Season: – From end of rainy season – September to January in South Africa and January to March in Zambia.
Eggs: – 6 to 14 (ivory-white color).
Notes: – The Spur winged Goose is the largest African waterfowl and generally the world’s largest goose. As well as nesting on the ground they will also nest in tree hollows, and they can be seen perching in trees. It is related to Geese and Shelducks but anatomically distinct from both and so is classed in its own sub-family, the Plectropterinae.