Ruddy-headed Geese

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Ruddy-headed Goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps)


The Ruddy-headed Geese (Chloephaga rubidiceps) are rare, large South American sheldgeese.


Distribution / Range

These mostly migratory geese occur naturally in southernmost South America; where they breed on open grassy plains in Tierra del Fuego, Chile and the Falkland Islands. For the winter, they migrate to the lowlands in southern Argentina.

The Falklands population is resident (non-migratory).

They favors damp upland forest clearings and feed by grazing. They rarely swim.

Outside the breeding season, they commonly form mixed flocks, often with the Ashy-headed Goose.

Ruddy-headed Geese are quite common in the Falklands, but only a few hundred of them are still found in continental South America; mainly due to loss of habitat and predation by the introduced Argentine Fox.


Description

The stocky Ruddy-headed Goose measures about 45–50 cm in length. The plumage is a pale grey back, and black-barred rich buff underparts. The head and upper neck are chestnut brown. In flight this species shows black primaries (longest wing feathers), with the rest of the wing white except for a broad green bar.

Males and females look alike.

Juveniles have a duller plumage.


Nesting

The lined nest is built amongst grass tussocks. The average clutch consists of 4 - 11 eggs.


Calls / Vocalizations

The male's call is described as a soft whistle, and the female's is a harsh cackle.



Diet / Feeding:

Geese feed mainly on plant material. When feeding in water, they submerge their heads and necks to reach aquatic plants, sometimes tipping forward like a dabbling duck. Flocks of these birds often feed on leftover cultivated grains in fields, especially during migration or in winter.

Ducks and geese generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks and Geese ...

We all enjoy waterfowl and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around - and it works! Who doesn't like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird - so it's best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves - providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson

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