Of the Cape Peninsula

Egyptian Geese

One of the most interesting things that has come out of our observations is the impact of Egyptian Geese on Black Sparrowhawks’ nests.

Egyptian Geese do not build their own nests. Normally they will lay their eggs in a scrape on the ground and line it with down from their chests. But they have long since realised that in such a nest their eggs are very vulnerable to predators. They have also realised that any platform, either in a tree or building, will offer more protection. As a result all the tree nesting raptors have to constantly fight off geese that are intent in taking over their nests.

Even if the geese do not actually manage to take over a hawks’ nest, during the confrontation between the birds, eggs and chick can die from cold. The geese also knock eggs and chicks out of the nest.

It is an unequal competition. The combined mass of the geese is about 4100 g versus the Black Sparrowhawks’ 1500 g.

4 responses

  1. jonny


    May 5, 2012 at 8:43 pm

  2. justin shrew fox

    egyptian geese are aggressive massive waterfowls,vicious,defendful of their young, i’ think that most of birds of prey stand no chance on egyptian geese, (eg. falcons,kestrels,kites,buzzards,hawks,owls,goshawks,) but large birds of prey can kill egyptian geese like matial eagles,black eagle or crowned eagle). these waterfowls may compete with birds of prey for nesting site,the male called ganders are the most aggressive ones starting an attack,thise fight may work for geese or not work,the geese floop down to a hawk with much honking aggressive sound,using the wing to bit, and the hawk will do the same with strech claws,if geese are defeted the next day they will comeback to do the same,until the hawk give up, we’v watched a mother goose defending her gosling to a golden eagle, they are good mothers and will stand up if something threatned them, especially on their youngs, LoL what a fight i’ve ever seen!!!!

    November 19, 2013 at 10:07 am

    • Ann

      Hi Justin,

      I can confirm everything you have said.

      For the last two years we have had cameras up at some of the nests and that was a real eye opener. We knew that there was a 50% drop in breeding success if a goose is seen on the nest. But what we never imagined was ferocity of the fight between the geese and the hawks. We seem to have a large turn over of females in the territories and I am beginning to think it is because they get injured during the fights with the geese.


      November 20, 2013 at 8:34 am

      • Hi there
        the geese might be the reason. female hawks are more capable of defending their nests than males, that why they are larger than males.
        if geese are seen in the nest site, the hawks had abandon it, and its a pity fight to watch. as that geese are so aggressive and wil kill chicks or eggs, even if the female hawk cried to defend her chicks, hawks will onset the fight day-by day.

        December 3, 2013 at 7:41 am

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