Cape Barren Goose

Cape Barren Goose (Cereopsis novaehollandiae) is endemic to the southern regions of Australia. Cape Barren geese reputedly vie as world’s largest goose, rivaled only by the spur-wing goose of South Africa.

Adult Cape Barren Goose averages 75-100 cm (30-39 inches) length with a wingspan ranging from 150 to 190 cm (59-75 inches). Its plumage is characteristically pale grey, accentuated by darker feather spots on the wings and tail. It has a pale white crown. Highly terrestrial, it has long red legs; its feet are black, with very deeply lobed webbing. The bright yellow cere, encompassing the base of the bill and extending to the forehead. Owing to cape barren geese having evolved in brackish water habitats, the cere functions similarly to seaducks in excreting salt. The facial skin also exhibits a vibrant yellow hue, contributing to its striking appearance.

Cape Barren goose primarily inhabits coastal areas, including islands in Bass Strait and the southern coast of mainland Australia. Cape Barren Geese showcase adaptability by thriving in diverse environments such as salt marshes, grasslands, and offshore islands.

Cape Barren Goose

cape barren goose feet
Cape Barren geese feet have shallow lobed webs and long claws.
Cape Barren Goose plumage
Heart-shaped spots o cape barren goose scapulars.
Cape Barren Goose mandible
Short, stubby mandibles with bright yellow cere on cape barren geese.


CAPE BARREN GOOSE. Confined to about 600 square miles of earth among Tasman Sea islands in Australia, Cape Barren Goose is likely the rarest huntable goose worldwide. Listed by IUCN as “least concern,” my description as rare is due to its relatively small distribution. It’s also candidate for largest, rivaled only by Africa’s spur-winged goose. Evolved on brackish marshes, the sea flower-yellow cere on its bill is for excreting salt, similarly to many sea ducks. Its long legs serve it well terrestrially, it’s well adapted to pasturelands, only occasionally roosting on water at all. Feet with shallow webbing. Long claw-like nails because it once perched and nested in island trees. Two-note honks and pig-like grunting vocalizations. Highly territorial, pairs and small cohorts stake out every paddock. Hunting consists of gently herding them like sheep towards pass shooter lines, where they’re much faster than their slow wingbeats suggest. Excellent tablefare, each breast half rendering a full pound. The goose depicted weighed 5.3 kg (11.66 pounds). They’ll get upwards of 7-8 kg in size. Cape Barren geese have been both poisoned as pests and raised for meat in the past.