Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) is a goose which breeds in Central Asia in colonies of thousands near mountain lakes. It lays 3-8 eggs in a ground nest.
The summer habitat is high altitude lakes where the bird grazes on short grass. It suffers predation from crows, foxes, ravens, sea eagles and others. The total population may, however, be increasing.
The Bar-headed Goose migrates over the Himalayas to spend the winter in India, Assam, Northern Burma and the wetlands of Pakistan. It migrates up to Magadi wetlands of Gadag district of Karnataka in the southern part of India. The winter habitat of the Bar-headed Goose is on cultivation where it feeds on barley, rice and wheat, and may damage crops.
The Bar-headed Goose is believed to be the highest flying bird having been seen at up to 10175 m (33,382 feet). It has a slightly larger wing area for its weight than other geese and it is believed this helps the goose to fly so high.
The bird is pale grey and is easily distinguished from any of the other grey geese of the genus Anser by the black bars on its head. It is also much paler than the other geese in this genus. In flight, its call is a typical goose honking.
It has sometimes been separated from Anser, which has no other member indigenous to the Indian region, nor any at all to the Ethiopian, Australian, or Neotropical regions, and placed in the monotypic genus Eulabeia.
The Bar-headed Goose is often kept in captivity as it is considered beautiful and breeds readily. Records in Britain are frequent, and almost certainly relate to escapes - however, the species has bred on several occasions in recent years and around five pairs were recorded in 2002 (the most recent available report of the Rare Birds Breeding Panel). It is possible the species is becoming gradually more established in the UK. The bird is sociable and causes no problems for other birds. The wild population is believed to be declining due to over-hunting.