Magpie Goose

Anseranas semipalmata

Magpie Goose. Photo: John Spiers.


Magpie Geese thrive in northern Australia, but were once widespread in eastern Australia as well. A breeding colony was recorded in Bool’s Lagoon but by 1911 had vanished under pressure from hunting and the establishment of pastoral leases. Shortly after proclamation of Bool Lagoon as a reserve in 1968, a breeding population was successfully re-established, not without several difficulties and setbacks. Currently they are doing well.

Magpie Goose. Photo: John Gitsham

Magpie Geese are an unusual species with many characteristics thought to be primitive, so much so that it is placed in its own family.

Breeding is in spring in South Australia, mainly between August and October. Often polygamous, typically one male paired with two females, all of which incubate eggs and provision young. Pair-bonds probably lifelong.

Magpie Geese are to be found in swamps and grasslands in floodplains where they have an almost vegetarian diet living on blades of grass, seeds, bulbs and rhizomes.


A large black-and-white goose-like bird with a prominent bump on the top of the head, particularly large in males. The head, neck, tail and flight feathers are black. The body and upper wing coverts are white. The legs are strong, yellow-orange in colour with only partially webbed feet (hence the name – semipalmata).

Where to find it

In the south-east of SA: Bool Lagoon, Hack’s Lagoon and vicinity.