The Ancient Egyptians welcomed and honored all sorts of creatures in their art, in hieroglyphics, as well as in the depiction of the goddesses and gods. Egyptian artwork includes more than seventy species of birds and they can be seen in dozens of hieroglyphs. The wide range of birds in Egyptian art, mummified remains of birds, and textual references clearly indicate that birds played an important role in ancient Egyptian society and religion.
Waterfowl, including wild and domestic species of ducks and geese, were treasured offering (and eating) birds. There is evidence that the Ancient Egyptians actively bred geese and ducks as an environmental conservation measure. To go by the numbers recorded as part of temple offerings, Ramesses III, for example, donated over 430,000 individual waterfowl to temples during his thirty-one year reign. Obviously breeding and preserving the ducks and geese would have been of prime importance.
A Roman historian, circa 60 BCE wrote that the Egyptians, ‘raise them by their own hands, by virtue of a skill peculiar to them, in numbers beyond telling…..’ (Diodorus Siculus, Book I, 74).
One of the oldest Gods, being part of the Ennead (the Creators), is Geb the God of the Earth, whose wife is Nut, the sky Goddess. Geb is often represented as a man with a goose on his head, or simply a goose and he is known as the Great Cackler. He was believed to have fathered the primordial egg from which the sun hatched.
For Geb, it is written:
Behold, I rejoice on my standard, on my seat.
I am the Creator of Darkness, making my place in the limits of the Sky,
The Ruler of Infinity.
I am the Son of the Earth,
Sprung from the Egg of the World.
I rejoice in the Lord of the Palace.
My Nest is unseen; I have broken the Egg.
I am the Lord of Millions of Years.
I have made my Nest in the limits of the sky,
And descended to the earth as the goose who drives out all sins.
~The Leyden Papyrus