Nature conservation

Threatened species

Magpie Goose - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Anseranas semipalmata
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 04 Oct 2018


The Magpie Goose is a large, distinctive black and white water-bird (from 70 - 90 cm long) with a prominent knob on the head, and orange legs. It is black at each 'end' - head, neck and upper chest, plus rump and tail - with white body and wings in between. Immature birds have no head-knob and their white parts are mottled grey or brown. It is not a duck or goose, but is regarded as a primitive relative of them.


The Magpie Goose is still relatively common in the Australian northern tropics, but had disappeared from south-east Australia by 1920 due to drainage and overgrazing of reed swamps used for breeding. Since the 1980s there have been an increasing number of records in central and northern NSW. Vagrants can follow food sources to south-eastern NSW.

Habitat and ecology

  • Mainly found in shallow wetlands (less than 1 m deep) with dense growth of rushes or sedges.
  • Equally at home in aquatic or terrestrial habitats; often seen walking and grazing on land; feeds on grasses, bulbs and rhizomes.
  • Activities are centred on wetlands, mainly those on floodplains of rivers and large shallow wetlands formed by run-off; breeding can occur in both summer and winter dominated rainfall areas and is strongly influenced by water level; most breeding now occurs in monsoonal areas; nests are formed in trees over deep water; breeding is unlikely in south-eastern NSW.
  • Often seen in trios or flocks on shallow wetlands, dry ephemeral swamps, wet grasslands and floodplains; roosts in tall vegetation.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthMoonie-Barwon Interfluve Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNarrandool Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Known None
Cobar PeneplainCanbelego Downs Known None
Cobar PeneplainLachlan Plains Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
Darling Riverine PlainsWarrambool-Moonie Predicted None
Mulga LandsWhite Cliffs Plateau Known None
NandewarPeel Known None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Known None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Known Within 10 km of Seaham Nature Reserve
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Known None
NSW South Western SlopesLower Slopes Known None
OceanHawkesbury Shelf Known None
OceanManning Shelf Known None
Ocean - Other StateNorthern Australian Coastal Waters Known None
Other StateACT Known None
Other StateQLD Known None
Other StateSA Known None
Other StateVIC Known None
RiverinaLachlan Known None
RiverinaMurray Fans Known None
RiverinaMurrumbidgee Known None
South Eastern HighlandsBathurst Known None
South Eastern HighlandsHill End Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Known None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known East of Cessnock
Sydney BasinWyong Known None