Andean Goose

andean geese in peruThe Andean Goose (Chloephaga melanoptera), also known as the Wallata, is actually a part of the Shelduck family. They are round birds with short and stubby pink-colored bills. Their bill is tipped with black that is just a bit lighter than their small, back eyes. For the most part, the legs and feet match the bill but can sometimes look like they are also orange tinted. The head, neck, chest, underbelly, and under the tail are bright white. The white plumage gradually turns brown and into iridescent green and blue wing and tail feathers. In flight, the contrasting wing feathers are an identifying characteristic. The majority of the wing matches the body plumage, and they also display the black primaries from above and below. Females have the same plumage as males and can be identified by their smaller stature. Juveniles display duller plumage.

This Andean Goose has a mutation in their hemoglobin that allows them to fly at higher altitudes than other birds. This comes in handy since their preferred habitat year-round are the high-elevation lakes and marshes in the Andes. These wetlands are only used if there is pastureland or open grasslands nearby. The Andean Goose range extends from southern Peru, eastern Chile, western Bolivia, and western Argentina. Despite choosing nesting areas on the ground near bodies of water, Andean Geese are typically terrestrial foragers and really only goes into the water during emergencies. As terrestrial birds, they largely consume grasses, sedges, and aquatic plants.