Green Pygmy Goose (Nettapus pulchellus)

Green Pygmy Goose

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Nettapus pulchellus | [authority] Gould, 1842 | [UK] Green Pygmy Goose | [FR] Anserelle elegante | [DE] Australische Zwergente | [ES] Gansito Australiano | [NL] Groene Dwergeend


Monotypic species


The pygmy geese are a group of very small “perching ducks” in the genus Nettapus which breed in the Old World tropics. They are the smallest of all wildfowl. As the “perching ducks” are a paraphyletic group, they need to be placed elsewhere. The initially assumed relationship with the dabbling duck subfamily Anatinae has been questioned, and it appears they form a lineage in an ancient Gondwanan radiation of waterfowl, within which they are of unclear affinities. An undescribed fossil species from the late Hemphillian (5.0-4.1 mya) of Jalisco, central Mexico, has also been identified from the distal end of a tarsometatarsus. It is only record of the genus in the New World.

Physical charateristics

In flight, the Green Pygmy-goose has distinctive white patches at the base of the wing. The male has a dark throat and neck. On the water, the Green Pygmy-goose is a small, dark duck floating high. The male has a white face patch and a dark neck. The female is similar to the White Pygmy-goose but somewhat darker and with a less distinct white eyebrow.

Listen to the sound of Green Pygmy Goose

[audio: Pygmy Goose.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 48 cm wingspan max.: 60 cm
size min.: 30 cm size max.: 36 cm
incubation min.: 23 days incubation max.: 24 days
fledging min.: 50 days fledging max.: 60 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 8  
      eggs max.: 12  


Australasia : New Guinea, North Australia


It inhabits permanent freshwaters that support floating vegetation such as waterlilies.


They form monogamous pairs and the males fight frequently to repulse rivals. Sustained physical contact is more common than in any other Australian waterfowl. The eggs are often laid high in a tree hollow, but the nest may be placed on the ground when trees are absent. Males will find potential nesting sites but the female will make the final decision. When the female is nesting, the male will defend the site very aggressively. When the 8-12 eggs hatch, he helps to rear the young. The incubation period is not exactly known, probably about 23-24 days; fledging probably about 55 days.

Feeding habits

The waterplants provide the principal food items, mainly leaves, seeds and even flowerheads

Video Green Pygmy Goose


copyright: Peter Waanders


This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
The population highly dependant upon seeds and flowers of water lilies but is currently stable throughout most of its range. Local declines in western Australia have been attributed to destruction of aquatic vegetation by cattle
Green Pygmy Goose status Least Concern


Essentially sedentary with some short local movements and dispersal along coasts in winter. it is flightless.

Distribution map

Green Pygmy Goose distribution range map

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *