With a weight of only 260g, the African Pygmy Goose is one of the smallest members of the duck family to be found in South Africa. They’re seen in close association with bodies of clear water densely vegetated with water lilies, the flowers and seeds of which forms the bulk of their diet, and other floating and emergent plants amongst which they’ll often sit entirely motionless to avoid detection. When threatened they’ll more usually dive below the water surface than fly away.
African Pygmy Geese form monogamous pairs with a very strong bond and are usually seen in pairs or family groups. They make their nests in holes in trees and will readily use nest boxes erected for them. The breeding season stretches from the start of spring to the end of autumn. Clutches may number up to 13, but more usually 7-9, eggs. The female is solely responsible for incubating the eggs, which takes about 4 weeks. Soon after hatching the chicks jump from the nest to follow their mother to the water. The chicks can fly by the time they’re about 6 or 7 weeks old.
The IUCN considers the African Pygmy Goose as being of least concern. While it has a very wide distribution in sub-Saharan Africa and also occurs on Madagascar, in our country they are considered to be near-threatened and only encountered with any regularity in the wetlands along the northern coastline of Kwazulu-Natal.