Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus)
The Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) is a unique species of goose belonging to the family Anatidae. It is native to Central Asia, with its breeding range extending across Mongolia, China, Tibet, and parts of India. The Bar-headed Goose is particularly well-known for its remarkable ability to fly at extremely high altitudes, allowing it to migrate over the Himalayas during its annual journey between its breeding and wintering grounds.
The Bar-headed Goose is a medium-sized goose, measuring around 71-76 centimeters (28-30 inches) in length, with a wingspan of 140-160 centimeters (55-63 inches). The bird has a predominantly light grey plumage with a white head and neck. Its most distinctive feature is the presence of two dark brown or black bars across the back of its head, which give the species its name. The bill and legs are orange or pinkish-orange.
The Bar-headed Goose is primarily herbivorous, feeding on a variety of plant materials such as grasses, leaves, stems, and seeds. It may also consume aquatic vegetation and occasionally insects or other small invertebrates. These geese often feed in wetland habitats or on the edges of lakes and rivers, where they can easily access their preferred food sources.
Reproduction and Lifecycle:
The breeding season for the Bar-headed Goose occurs between May and July, usually in high-altitude wetlands or near freshwater lakes. The birds form monogamous pairs that remain together for life. They build a nest on the ground, typically in a sheltered spot near water, using grasses, reeds, and other plant materials.
The female lays 4 to 6 creamy-white eggs, which are incubated for about 27-30 days. After hatching, the goslings are covered in down and are able to leave the nest and feed themselves within a day or two. Both parents are involved in caring for and protecting the goslings until they fledge, or become capable of flying, at around 50-60 days old.
The Bar-headed Goose is currently listed as “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to its large range and stable population. The species is not facing any major threats at present. However, habitat loss and degradation due to wetland drainage, pollution, and human disturbance could pose potential risks to the Bar-headed Goose population in the future. Additionally, the birds are sometimes hunted for food and sport, which may also impact their numbers.