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Cape Barren Goose

Cape Barren Goose

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cereopsis
Binomial name
Cereopsis novaehollandiae

The Cape Barren Goose, Cereopsis novaehollandiae, is a large goose resident in southern Australia. Cereopsis means wax-like and refers to the waxy yellow-green beak cover.

A previous decline in numbers appears to have been reversed as birds in the east at least have adapted to feeding on agricultural land. The breeding areas are grassy islands off the Australian coast, where this species nests on the ground in colonies.

These are bulky geese and their almost uniformly grey plumage, bearing rounded black spots, is unique. The tail and flight feathers are blackish and the legs are orange. The short, decurved black bill and green cere gives it a very peculiar expression.

This bird feeds by grazing and rarely swims. It is gregarious outside the breeding season, when it wanders more widely, forming small flocks.

It bears captivity well, breeding in confinement. Some of this species' peculiarities seem to have been still more exaggerated in a bird that is wholly extinct, the New Zealand Cape Barren Goose, Cereopsis novaezeelandiae of New Zealand, known only from bones. Among the first portions of this singular bird that were found were the tibia, presenting an extraordinary development of the patella.

For some time the affinity of the owner of this wonderful structure was in doubt, but was dispelled by the discovery of a nearly perfect skeleton, now in the British Museum, which proved the bird to be a goose of great size, and unable, from the shortness of its wings, to fly. In correlation with this loss of power may also be noted the dwindling of the keel of the sternum. Generally, however, its osteological characters point to an affinity to Cereopsis .


Wildfowl by Madge and Burn, ISBN 0-7470-2201-1