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26 Jul 2018

Our magpie geese mark first birthday in style, with fun and cake!

WWT pulled out all the stops for the birthday girls who turned one today.

The three sisters were treated to a delicious cake made from chickpeas, broccoli and mealworm and a bubble machine, which provided endless amusement for the inquisitive trio.

The lovely Laura, Livvy and Lucy have given us plenty to celebrate since they were taken under the wing of animal trainer Selina Reid when they were three weeks old.

Selina said:

“Magpie geese take roughly around six years to mature. Now that they are one, I’d say they are about pre-school age now – and sometimes still very silly!

“We have shared a wonderful year together. They were slow to progress to begin with but are doing great now. The birds really enjoy training and we’re very excited about the year ahead.”

The next big step for Selina is releasing them for free flight – outside their aviary.

magpie geese

Although the birds are trained to respond to cues, they will be fitted with transmitters to track their movements in case they have to be located.

This is important as the geese are one of the species destined to take part in spectacular displays at the UK’s first Living Wetland Theatre when it opens next year. As part of these incredible interactive shows, the birds will present natural behaviours on cue, including free flight demonstrations around the outdoor exhibit.

Selina adds:

“Magpie geese are inquisitive by nature so to make sure they don’t get distracted at the Living Wetland Theatre we have to desensitise them to new environments and other quirks such as loud hats, dangling jewellery, children crying and even beards!”

Magpie geese are native to Australia, where they breed in large colonies across the northern part of the country.

As adults, they breed in groups of up to five, headed by one dominant male who protects his females from other magpie geese and the ultimate wetland predator – Australian crocodiles. As such, they breed and share family duties together for maximum protection. This approach isn’t always ideal for the young magpie goose which can find itself in competition with a tight-knitted group.

With their unmistakable knobbly beaks, black and white plumage and famous ‘citrus armpit’ smell, they’re no ordinary wildfowl.

We’re finding that out every day with Laura, Livvy and Lucy. Happy birthday girls!

Watch our July WildWatch short on the magpie geese here.