Andean Goose (Chloephaga melanoptera)

Andean Goose

[order] ANSERIFORMES | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Chloephaga melanoptera | [authority] Eyton, 1838 | [UK] Andean Goose | [FR] Ouette de Andes | [DE] Andengans | [ES] Cauquen Gauyata (Arg) | [NL] Andesgans


Genus Species subspecies Region Range
Chloephaga melanoptera SA Peru to s Chile and Argentina


The sheldgeese are a genus (Chloephaga) of 5 species in the family Anatidae. It belongs to the tribe Tadornini, A group that resembles true geese and shows similar habits but is more closely related to shelducks and ducks. One of the most interesting aspects of the closely knit group of the genus Chloephaga is the great variation in colouration between the species and sexes, ranging from nearly no dimorphism in the Andean goose. All Chloephaga share upper white upper wing coverts, a metallic speculum on the secondary coverts and white secondaries. The voice of the males of these species is a whistle and that of the females a cackle. They also share short, high bills and a semiterrestrial lifestyle.

Physical charateristics

The Andean Goose is a large black and white sheldgoose with red bill and orange legs and feet. Both sexes have identical plumage, with the male being slightly larger in size than the female. The voices of the male and female are easily distinguishable, with the male possessing a high-pitched twittering whistle and the female a lower-pitched cackling.

Listen to the sound of Andean Goose

[audio: Goose.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

recorded by Sjoerd Mayer

wingspan min.: 140 cm wingspan max.: 160 cm
size min.: 70 cm size max.: 80 cm
incubation min.: 28 days incubation max.: 32 days
fledging min.: 80 days fledging max.: 90 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 5  
      eggs max.: 10  


South America : Peru to South Chile and Argentina. These sheldgeese inhabit the Andes above 3000 m from central Peru and Bolivia south to Mendoza, Argentina and Nuble, Chile.


Prefers open lands with areas of very short matted grass. Inhabits bogs in wet mountain valleys, river plains and shore meadows of lakes and lagoons. During most of the year, the geese stay at altitudes of over 3000 m. In the more southerly parts of their range, may move temporarily down into Chile’s central valley after heavy winter snows in the mountains.


Andean Geese are gregarious most of the year and are noisy. Loose flocks break up into pairs during the breeding season, during which the birds seek out a place to create a nest scrape in low grassy vegetation. Only the female incubates the 5-10 eggs, but the male stands on guard for the 30-day incubation period. Both parents raise the young who fledge after about 12 weeks. Andean Geese are terrestrial grazers and are reluctant to take to the water unless with young.

Feeding habits

Little information, especially from wild populations, but they most likely eat almost entirely grasses; the other species of Chloephaga are all vegetarian.

Video Andean Goose


copyright: Josep del Hoyo


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size may be moderately small to large, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Andean Geese are highly terrestrial, but they take to the air to escape danger, appearing short-necked and heavy in flight. If unable to fly, they take to the water but otherwise are not usually seen there. They do not swim well, with their breasts low and the back part of their body high in the air as they make slow progress through the water. Andean Geese may lead the chicks into the water to escape predators, however. Most foraging is done in the tall grasses in which they live
Andean Goose status Least Concern


Sedentary, hoever altitudinal shifts occur on a small scale

Distribution map

Andean Goose distribution range map

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