Spur-winged Geese

Spur-winged Geese (Plectropterus gambensis)

The Spur-winged Geese, (Plectropterus gambensis), is a large bird in the family Anatidae, related to the geese and the shelducks, but distinct from both of these in a number of anatomical features, and therefore treated in its
own subfamily, the Plectropterinae.

The Spur-winged Geese on Green gassy Field
The Spur-winged Geese on Green gassy Field


It occurs in wetlands throughout sub-Saharan Africa.


Adults are 75-115 cm (30-45 in) long and weigh about 5.5 kg (12 lbs), with males much larger than the females. They are the largest African waterfowl amd are, on average, the world’s largest “goose”. These geese are mainly black, with a white face and large white wing patches. The long legs are flesh-colored.

The nominate race P. g. gambensis has extensive white on the belly and flanks, but the subspecies P. g. niger, which occurs south of the Zambezi River, has only a small white belly patch.

The male differs from the female, not only in size, but also in that it has a larger red facial patch extending back from the red bill, and a knob at the base of the upper beak.

Call / Vocalization

This is a quiet species, but may give a thin whistle in flight.


The large nest is usually concealed in vegetation near water, but tree holes, other cavities, and old Hamerkop nests may be used. The spur on the bend of the wing may be used in disputes.

Spur-winged Geese Image
Spur-winged Geese Image


The Spur-winged Goose is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Diet / Feeding

Spur-winged Geese feed by grazing and spends the middle part of the day resting by water.

Ducks and geese generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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