Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Spur-winged Goose (Plectropterus gambensis)


French: Oie-armée de Gambie German: Sporngans Spanish: Ganso espolonado

Anas gambensis


, 1766,



Some authors have proposed that present species be placed in a tribe (Plectropterini), or even in a subfamily (Plectropterinae), of its own. Extreme individuals of both races are distinctive, but much individual variation exists. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. gambensis (Linnaeus, 1766) – Gambia E to Ethiopia, S to Angola and R Zambezi.
  • P. g. niger P. L. Sclater, 1877 – S Africa from Namibia and Zimbabwe to Cape Provinces (South Africa).
  • Descriptive notes

    75–100 cm; male 4000–6800 g, female 3352–5400 g. Unmistakable. Variable amounts of white on upperwing-coverts. Female similar to male, but somewhat smaller... read more


    Weak whistling vocalizations, males giving soft, high-pitched bubbling “cherwit” in flight or when... read more


    Common in seasonal and permanent marshes, larger rivers, lakes, reservoirs, etc., particularly... read more

    Food and feeding

    Basically vegetarian diet; greener parts and seeds of grasses (e.g. Panicum coloratum, Echinochloa colonum), sedges (e.g... read more


    Starts during or near end of rainy season, e.g. Sept–Dec (Senegal, Mali), Aug–Nov (Nigeria), Sept–Oct (Ethiopia), all... read more


    Undertakes seasonal movements mostly related with availability of water; during dry season, birds... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Seasonally common to abundant, occurring on majority of large inland waterbodies. In 1987, total of 38,000 birds counted in W Africa... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Spur-winged Goose (Plectropterus gambensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).