12 Days of Christmas, South Florida Style

Day 6: Egyptian Geese A Laying

egyptian goose

An Egyptian goose, photographed along Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach. Despite the name, it's not a true goose, but it's the closest bird to a goose we have in South Florida.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a laying. Which in South Florida would have to be Egyptian geese. As the name implies, these geese are not native to Florida. Africa and the Middle East are their true homes, but they’ve taken to South Florida’s warm climate and wet habitat, and are becoming more and more abundant throughout the region.

They’ve been around for decades, mainly taking to suburban areas rather than the wilds. At first, it wasn’t clear that they were “geese a laying,” even with reports dating back to the 1990s that they were nesting here.

But we’ve had numerous reports of Egyptian geese waddling or swimming with youngsters in tow, and we’ve seen them ourselves.

Egyptian geese are absolutely beautiful birds; Egyptians considered them sacred. But their presence isn’t always welcome. Some love them; some find their aggressive ways a nuisance. But they are, like many Florida invaders, here to stay.

For centuries, goose was the preferred fowl for roasting on Christmas Day. That began to change when Henry VIII ordered the head removed from a turkey for his Christmas feast during the 1500s. Charles Dickens gave turkey consumption a further boost with his "Christmas Carol" in 1843. It was a large turkey Scrooge orders to replace the scrawny goose the Cratchit family was to devour. By the 1950s, turkey all but replaced goose on the Christmas day menu for most Brits, to which geese are forever thankful. Egyptian geese, by the way, don't taste very good.

Oh and one more thing, despite the name, Egyptian geese aren’t true geese. Rather, they’re shelducks, a mix of geese and duck. But they'll have to do, since they're the closest thing we have to a goose in these parts.

The Twelve days of Christmas

Published by Wild South Florida, PO Box 7241, Delray Beach, FL 33482.

Photographs by David Sedore. Photographs are property of the publishers and may not be used without permission.