Bar-headed Goose (Anser indicus) is a medium sized goose that is not only known for its beautiful plumage, but for its ability to fly in extreme altitudes with ease. The small bill and legs of this species are an orangey-yellow color. Both sexes have white heads with black eyes, with two jet black bars extending from the back of their skulls towards the cheeks. The throat and back of the neck are also black, with a broad line of white plumage separating the two. The majority of Bar-headed Goose body plumage is silver, with dark brown or gray ribbing near the flanks. The underbelly to tail is white. In flight, the underside of Bar-headed Goose wings looks slivery gray, with the primaries and secondaries flaring with black.
The Bar-headed Goose reaches high altitudes over the Himalayan Mountain Range to make it to their breeding grounds in the Spring. Their lungs have adapted to the low oxygen levels due to their large lungs and are able to bind oxygen to hemoglobin more efficiently than other species. This species is highly gregarious during the breeding season, often forming colonies with over a thousand individuals. Pairs usually remain monogamous during the breeding season, and some pairs have been reported to stay with the same partner over the course of a few years. Breeding grounds are typically near mountain lakes. Their breeding range extends from Mongolia to Russia, Western China to Tibet, and to Kyrgyzstan.
BAR-HEADED GOOSE. Next-to-last unicorn on personal “Ducket List” that now exceeds 100 sub-species worldwide. Our paths finally crossed in Mongolia. Other unique species were ruddy shelduck, common shelducks and swan goose. Plenty mallards, pintails and Eurasian wigeons. The amazing Asian Steppe country of Mongolia was one of the most unlikely looking places we’ve ever waterfowl hunted, amazing culture and history. Will make it back one day in future. It was the second trip to Asia, in the steppes of Mongolia, that I managed to scratch a real unicorn off the list. Written about in ancient and mythological literature, bar-headed geese migrate at high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains, where there’s only 10-percent the amount of oxygen found at sea level. Their migration from wintering grounds in Southern Asia takes them through one of the most unique places you’ll ever hunt waterfowl. Very few grace the shelves of game rooms. #GetDucks in Mongolia.
Mongolia waterfowl hunting adventure for duck and goose species endemic to Asia, epitomizes true hunting adventure.
The Bar-headed Goose uses high altitude habitats at all times of year, preferring mountain grasslands or agriculture fields near fresh water marshes, lakes, and streams during the non-breeding season. They have been documented to use brackish water sources less frequently. While primarily herbivores, this Bar-headed Goose will add small fish and insects to their diet. During the winter, they will eat agricultural crops such as corn, barley, and rice from neighboring villages. Wintering grounds can be found in the southern Tibetan-Qinghai Plateau, India, and Bangladesh.
BAR-HEADED GOOSE ADVENTURE. That time scratched a last unicorn from the list. Bar-headed goose, highest flying in the world. Traveled to Mongolia. In April. Proving once and for all that it’s not the bird but where the quest takes. And what an adventure. Three-day detour through China commencing with a firearm fiasco, but soon saw the massive ancient palaces, ate Peking duck each night because learned don’t really like what I’ve considered Chinese food my whole life. Hiked the Great Wall of China that was built over centuries to keep Ginghis Kahn’s world-conquering armies at bay. And then rural Mongolia, where little has changed since. And by little i mean like horses tethered outside the ger family home in middle nowhere but with a TV satellite dish, me wondering what the homeowners thought of Hollywood beaches beaming at them when it was -50 outside. Three million people, 33 million head of livestock big and small, not a single fence. They’re nomads still. Slept in traditional gers ourselves, eating boiled mutton, drinking mare’s milk, lots of vodka; driving forever down tire tracks through the remote Asian steppe, visiting ancient horse shrines, remote wetlands pockets that held waterfowl variety both familiar and unique. A favorite hunt for mallards and pintails in a valley never before hunted. Rare swan geese decoying to the dove mojo decoys i brought. Didn’t bathe for 10 days. Didn’t matter. Would have brought the wolf coat and hat home had it been possible, so warm my glasses fogged in the minute it took to snap photo. The taxidermied bar-headed goose a reminder of so many things there’s not room to type. And many more reasons to return.