Cape Barren Geese

Cape Barren Geese

Cape Barren Geese

On Thursday we travelled south from Murray Bridge to the shores of Lake Alexandrina. The River Murray flows into this lake near Wellington before flowing out to sea near Goolwa. Just west of Wellington is a reliable spot to see Cape Barren Geese. They congregate in their hundreds here to feed on the local irrigated pastures.

Cape Barren Geese breed on the islands in Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania and also on the islands of South Australia and Western Australia. During the summer months they disperse to suitable grazing areas on the nearby mainland in South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania. In total there might be less than ten thousand birds, though some might dispute this figure.

On previous occasions I have counted over 500 birds in the one paddock where the above photo was taken making this locality a significant feeding ground for this species. Smaller flocks occur around the perimeter of Lakes Albert and Alexandrina, often in association with White Faced Herons, White and Straw Necked Ibis, Masked Lapwings, Australian Shelducks and the occasional flock of domestic geese.

Cape Barren Goose

Cape Barren Goose


8 Responses to “Cape Barren Geese”

  1. Snail says:

    I have a soft spot for Cape Barren geese, despite them sounding like dyspeptic donkeys. It’s great to see them out and about.

  2. Trevor says:

    I love them too, and have been known to make special trips to this area to see them (or persuade my wife that we really need to go that way).

  3. collette says:

    I live in berwick, victoria in a small estate which has a lake with alot of different birds but only one cape barren goose which I see daily either passing by in car or walking. I am curious as to why this bird is all by itself with no other one like it in sight? I have gotten close to this bird even hand fed it some bread.

  4. Trevor says:

    I notice on the Melways map of your area that there are a number of lakes, reservoirs, parks and reserves in the district. It is not unexpected that there would be some CB Geese in your area. French and Phillip Islands area not that far away either and these islands have significant numbers of the CB Geese present.

    What is unusual is the fact that there is only one bird and that it is so tame. CB Geese typically form flocks of from a dozen or two through to many hundreds. The fact that it is so tame indicates that it may have escaped (or been released from) a zoo or private collection.

    If it is a wild bird it may migrate to the Bass Strait Islands for the winter/spring breeding season, which means it may be leaving very soon.

  5. Sandra says:

    I live close to Berwick Springs Lake and have been concerned for some time about the lone Cape Barren Goose that lives in the area. Some months ago there were two of them but one disappeared, probably due to a fox attack as we have foxes in the area also.

    The goose is a loner and does not mix with other domestic geese and ducks in the area. Is it satisfactory to ignore its lonely existence and can the goose look after itself and fly to another location if it wishes?

  6. Trevor says:

    Thanks for visiting Sandra. Because they spend so much time grazing on the ground, CB Geese are at risk from foxes, and even dogs for that matter. They are quite capable of defending themselves (just try getting close to a nest!!!) and also quite capable of flying off elsewhere. It is obviously quite happy where it is or it would have flown by now. It probably enjoys the good food source in the area.

  7. john o'dell says:

    i am a vet and have just picked up a C.B.Goose with one broken wing. What can I feed it while it is recovering in captivity? I know they normally eat grass…will hay/chaff/bread do?

  8. Trevor says:

    Hi there John,

    I’m terribly sorry about this – your question slipped under the radar unanswered. It happens when you get heaps of comments and questions daily.

    In captivity CB Geese can be fed grass clippings, greens (incl. cabbage, silverbeet) and grains such as wheat and malted barley.

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