Monday, August 6, 2012

Swan Goose

Anser cygnoides
The Swan Goose is a very large Goose that breeds in China, Russia, and Mongolia, with some small populations also being found in surrounding countries. They breed in wetland areas of the steppe and taiga, and during the winter they migrate to more coastal areas. Though they are waterfowl, these Geese aren't often found in the water-- they graze on dry land. They feed on sedges and berries, typically at night, with their diet shifting each season to accommodate what is available.

Swan Geese are the ancestors of two different Domesticated species-- the Chinese Goose and the African Goose. Most other Geese trace their lines back to the Greylag Goose which is native to most of Europe and Asia. Swan Geese are the second largest Geese in their genus, just behind the Greylag.

Unfortunately, Swan Geese are listed as Vulnerable. Though their domestic descendants can be found around the world, they themselves are threatened by unsustainable hunting and habitat loss. It is estimated that there around around 90,000 left, though the population is on a fast decline.

Their wetland breeding areas are being  used for development and agriculture, so the birds are being forced into very small ranges. The major downside to these small breeding ranges is that a single localized natural disaster can completely wipe out a huge portion of the population. The birds are protected in several areas of Russia, Mongolia, and Korea, but there is much more to be done to keep these Geese from going extinct.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Asia
Size : Length around 3ft (.9m), Weight up to 7.7lbs (3.5kg)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Anseriformes
Family : Anatidae -- Genus : Anser -- Species : A. cygnoides

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