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Other uses: Goose (disambiguation)
† see also: Swan, Duck
Anatidae Goose (plural geese) is the general English name for a considerable number of birds, belonging to the family Anatidae. This family also includes the swans, which are mostly larger than geese, and the ducks, which are smaller.
True geese are medium to large birds, always (with the exception of the Néné) associated to a greater or lesser extent with water. Most species in Europe, Asia and North America are strongly migratory as wild birds, breeding in the far north and wintering much further south. However, escapes and introductions have led to resident feral populations of several species.
All geese eat an exclusively vegetarian diet, and some can become pests when flocks feed on arable crops.
Geese tend to lay a smaller number of eggs than ducks. However, both parents protect the nest and young, which usually results in a higher survival rate for the young geese, known as goslings.
A group of geese on the ground is called a gaggle. When flying, a group of geese is known as a wedge or a skein. See List of collective nouns for birds
The following are the true goose species.
Genus Anser, Grey Geese
- Greylag Goose Anser anser
- White-fronted Goose A. albifrons
- Lesser White-fronted Goose A. erythropus
- Bean Goose A. fabalis
- Pink-footed Goose A. brachyrhynchus
- Bar-headed Goose A. indicus
- Swan Goose, A. cygnoides
Genus Anser or Chen (depending on authority cited)
- Snow Goose Anser caerulescens or Chen caerulescens
- Ross's Goose, A. rossii or C. rossii
- Emperor Goose, A. canagicus or C. canagica
Genus Branta, Black Geese
- Brent Goose Branta bernicla
- Barnacle Goose B. leucopsis
- Canada Goose B. canadensis
- Red-breasted Goose B. ruficollis
- Néné or Hawaiian Goose, B. sandvicensis
- Cape Barren Goose, Cereopsis novaehollandiae
Other species called "geese"
- Andean Goose, Chloephaga melanoptera
- Upland Goose, Chloephaga picta
- Kelp Goose, Chloephaga hybrida
- Ashy-headed Goose, Chloephaga poliocephala
- Ruddy-headed Goose, Chloephaga rubidiceps
- Orinoco Goose, Neochen jubata
- Egyptian Goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus
The unusual magpie goose is in a family of its own, the Anseranatidae.
Goose in its origins is one of the oldest words of the Indo-European languages, the modern names deriving from the proto-Indo-European root, ghans, hence Sanskrit hamsa (feminine hamsii), Latin anser, Greek khén etc.
In the Germanic languages, the root word led to Old English gos with the plural gés, German Gans and Old Norse gas. Other modern derivatives are Russian gus and Old Irish géiss.
In non-technical use, the male goose is called a "gander" (Anglo-Saxon gandra) and the female is the "goose".
Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
Geese in cooking
Geese are used for the production of foie gras.
Geese in fiction and myth
When Aphrodite first came ashore she was welcomed by the Charites (Roman "Graces"), whose chariot was drawn by geese.
There are Mother Goose tales, such as a farmwife might have told; there is the proverbial goose that laid the golden eggs, warning about the perils of greed. And there is the goose as a veiled reference to the penis in the verses
- Goosy Goosy Gander, where dost thou wander?
- Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber.
The geese in the temple of Juno on the Capitoline were said by Livy to have saved Rome from the Gauls around 390 BC when they were disturbed in a night attack. The story may be an attempt to explain the origin of the sacred flock of geese at Rome.
Liliane Bodson and Daniel Marcolungo, L'oie de bon aloi: Aspects de l'histoire ancienne de l'oie domestique [The goose in ancient life and folklore]. Vise (Musée Regional d'Archeologie et d'Histoire de Vise), 1994, discusses the image and lore of domestic geese in classical antiquity, with a separate chapter on the goose in folklore.
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