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Home > Research & Collections > News > Introducing the Egyptian Goose

Introducing the Egyptian Goose

A new addition to the Ornithology Collections

NHMLA Ornithology Collections Manager Kimball Garrett observed this pair of Egyptian Geese at Hansen Dam, Los Angeles County, on November 10, 2017. The bird on the right in the photo appears smaller and is presumably the female that was found dead at the same location on January 10, 2018.


Los Angeles is home to lots of introduced birds. While other animals are brought here as stowaways in nursery plants (I’m talking about you, coqui frogs) or hitching rides in produce boxes or shipping containers (you heard me, snails), some were brought here entirely on purpose via the pet trade. The colorful (and noisy) parrots that call Southern California home are escaped former pets and their many, many descendents. Even larger birds like geese are brought here by humans, not as pets exactly, but as ornamental birds to occupy fancy private ponds.

These larger birds also sometimes escape their human captors and start establishing populations around Los Angeles. One such bird is the Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca). This sub-Saharan species has recently become established in places like the San Fernando Valley, and NHMLA Ornithology Collections Manager Kimball Garrett often sees these birds on his regular outings to Hansen Dam.

It was at the same spot in January that NHMLA Research Associate Kathy Molina (who also happens to be Garrett’s wife) found a recently deceased Egyptian goose, almost certainly the very same individual Garrett observed and photographed weeks earlier. The goose’s mate stood alongside its partner, not even moving when Molina approached to recover the remains. Egyptian geese mate for life, so this was probably a very bereaved bird.

a photo of stuffed bird skins in a drawer
The recent addition sits on the rear left section of this tray of Egyptian geese in the NHMLA Ornithology Collections.

“I hated to interfere with the pair’s last goodbyes, but I also knew that this would be an interesting new specimen for the Ornithology collection, so I went for it,” said Molina.  

The goose, which proved to be a female, now resides in the cabinets of the Museum’s Ornithology Collections, preserved for future generations of scientists. It joins five specimens collected in Kenya in the 1960s and 70s, though none of their skeletons were preserved (only their skin and feathers were), so this new bird provides the first skeleton of this species in the collections. Additionally, tissue samples in the Ornithology Department’s freezer (set to a frosty negative 80 degrees Celsius) make genetic analyses possible.

“It’s a pretty cool looking species, and the specimen furthers our goal of documenting established and establishing non-native bird populations in southern California,” said Garrett.

a photo of bird bones in a box
The goose’s skeleton is now part of the collections as well. The beak, most of the wing bones, and leg bones stay with the study skin (above), and the rest of the bones are stored in a box.



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