Bar-headed Goose: A migratory bird that crosses the Himalayas

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Context: First time, the Bar-headed goose (Anser Indicus) has been spotted in the wetlands of Karingali Puncha, near Pandalam in Pathanamthitta, Kerala.

Relevance:
Prelims: General issues on Environmental Ecology, Bio-diversity, and Climate Change.
Mains: GS III-

  • Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.
  • Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

Bar-headed goose:

IUCN conservation status: Least Concern.

  • The Bar-headed geese (Anser Indicus) are found in central China and Mongolia and they breed there.
  • They start migration to the Indian sub-continent during the winter and stay here till the end of the season.
  • They return to their homes by crossing the Himalayan ranges.
  • Their migration has been a fascination for birders as they cross the Himalayas on one of the most high-altitude migrations in the world.

Why in the news?

  • The first time, the Bar-headed goose (Anser Indicus) has been spotted in the wetlands of Karingali Puncha, near Pandalam in Pathanamthitta, Kerala.
  • The six-member team which noticed the bird included Robin C. Koshy, Jiji Sam, Libin Abraham, Steven, Aben, and Sabu.
  • The Punch is a major birding spot in the district which reported the highest bird count in the Asian Waterfowl Census of 2015. The bar-headed goose was the 336th bird species found in the district.

About Bar-headed goose:

  • Bar-headed geese breed in central China and Mongolia and they start migration to the Indian sub-continent during the winter.
  • They are one of the birds which can fly even at very high altitude. They come to India and return to their homes by crossing the Himalayan ranges.
  • Bar-headed goose is known to fly high.
  • They cross the Himalayas on one of the most high-altitude migrations in the world.
  • Their ability to sustain the high oxygen demands of flight in air that is exceedingly oxygen-thin is exceptional.
  • The goose’s high-altitude flights have been a biological mystery for decades. A mountain climber spotted a bar-headed goose overhead while summiting Mount Everest back in 1953. They boast an enhanced ability to bind oxygen to their hemoglobin.
  • According to a study by Graham R. Scott and others found that heart rates and metabolic costs of flight increase with elevation and can be near maximal during steep climbs. 

Central Asian Flyway:

  • The Central Asian Flyway (CAF), Central Asian-Indian Flyway, or Central Asian-South Asian Flyway is a flyway covering a large continental area of Eurasia between the Arctic Ocean and the Indian Ocean and the associated island chains.
  • The CAF comprises several important migration routes of waterbirds, most of which extend from the northernmost breeding grounds in Siberia to the southernmost non-breeding wintering grounds in West Asia, India, the Maldives, and British Indian Ocean Territory.

Asian Waterbird Census (AWC ):

  • AWC, the largest such census in Asia, organised by Wetlands International, is an international programme that focuses on monitoring the status of waterbirds and wetlands.
  • The data collected each year is shared by Wetlands International with global conservation organisations such as IUCN and Ramsar Convention, while state coordinators share data with local wildlife departments to ensure conservation and sustainable management of wetlands in the region.
  • It also aims to increase public awareness on issues related to wetland and waterbird conservation.



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