Kakadu National Park

Saturday 12 October 2019

A much-loved Northern Territory bird, the magpie goose is widespread in Kakadu.

The South Alligator River catchment is northern Australia’s greatest refuge for these remarkable birds.

What it looks like

The magpie goose has striking black and white plumage and long, brightly coloured legs. It grows to 70–90 cm in size.

Where to see it

The magpie goose can be seen on floodplains and wet grasslands, often in large noisy flocks.

Look for it in the swamp country on the Gungarre Walk or in the floodplains on the Illigadjarr Walk.

Late in the dry season, large flocks of magpie geese crowd the remaining billabongs such as Yellow Water and Anbangbang Billabong.

A walk at Mamukala Wetlands between September and November can provide a sight you’ll never forget as huge flocks congregate at the water’s edge. As they leave the floodplains to roost for the night, the air becomes thick with honking geese flying in lines across the red setting sun.

Culture

Magpie geese are an important food source for Bininj who live near wetlands.

Towards the end of the dry season, the geese have grown fat on andem (blue lily) and ankurladj (water chestnut) corms. They crowd around the shrinking billabongs with other waterbirds, which makes them easy to hunt. Bininj also collect and eat their eggs late in the tropical summer.

Other names

  • Scientific name: Anseranas semipalmata