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A photo of a African Pygmy Goose (Nettapus auritus), male
African Pygmy Goose, Male

African Pygmy Goose

Nettapus auritus

The African pygmy goose, Nettapus auritus, is a diminutive waterfowl, the smallest of its kind in Africa and among the tiniest globally. Despite its name, it is more akin to dabbling ducks than true geese. The males are distinguished by their striking white faces adorned with black eye patches and an iridescent black crown that cascades down the nape, framing powder green ear patches. Females, on the other hand, exhibit a more subdued palette with gray faces and dark brown eye stripes.

Identification Tips

Males can be identified by their white faces with contrasting black eye patches and the iridescent black crown extending down the neck. The upper neck is white, transitioning to light chestnut on the breast, with more intense chestnut flanks and a metallic green back. Females have a gray face with a dark brown eye stripe and a dark brown forehead, crown, and neck. Both sexes have a white belly and a yellow bill with a black tip, but the male's bill is more vividly colored.


These birds favor tranquil or stagnant waters abundant with water lilies, such as inland wetlands, open swamps, farm dens, river pools, and estuaries.


The African pygmy goose is a nomadic species found throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar.


African pygmy geese form strong pair bonds that may persist across seasons. They are known to breed in response to rainfall, although breeding in captivity has proven to be a rare success.

Diet and Feeding

Their diet primarily consists of water lily seeds, supplemented by other floating seeds, small insects, and various small invertebrates.

Conservation status

The species is currently classified as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating a stable population across its range.

African Pygmy Goose Sounds

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African Pygmy Geese on Birda


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