Upland Goose




Upland Goose in South America

Scientific name: Chloephaga picta

Family: Anatidae

Spanish name: Cauquén común

Migration: Patagonian (Neotropical) migrant

Population estimate: 100,000–1,000,000 ([1])

Trend: Decreasing ([1])

Ramsar Criterion 6 (1% level): 1,000 ([2])

IUCN Conservation status: Not known to have unfavourable conservation status


Distribution and abundances

Endemic from South America, this goose distributes in southern Argentina and Chile, with two different subspecies. Chloephaga picta picta is migratory and occurs mainland, breeding through Tierra del Fuego and the islands of Cape Horn north through the grasslands of southern Patagonia and along the Andes to Neuquén province in Argentina and 36º S in Chile. Main wintering areas located in northern Patagonia and in the southern Pampas, south of Buenos Aires province in Argentina. Abundances reach thousands of birds and seem to be lower inland in the central Patagonian steppe. The subspecies Chloephaga picta leucoptera is resident and restricted to the Malvinas / Falkland Islands (link to Abundances map). Many sites reaching the 1% threshold (Ramsar Convention Criterion No. 6) within southern Patagonia and southern Buenos Aires province, including Seis Lagunas in Chile and Indio Rico, Aparicio, Krabbe, Península de Valdés, Guer Aike, Meseta de Strobel and Bahía San Sebastián in Argentina.


Migration and seasonality

The subspecies C. p. picta arrives to the main breeding areas in southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego by early September. Northern migration begins by the last week of April, arriving to the main wintering areas in southern Buenos Aires province during May. Migration occurs along both the East and West Patagonia Routes. Further north in Patagonia some populations are resident (link to Seasonality map).



Mallines, open grasslands -especially along well-watered valleys and near lakes- and greens in the Malvinas / Falkland Islands. Also recorded in coastal areas and in Patagonian lagoons, mainly during the moulting period. During the winter they concentrate in rural areas of northern Patagonia and southern Buenos Aires province, feeding on implanted pastures, sunflower stubbles and winter crops, mainly wheat.


Habits and interactions with human activities


Recorded in enormous flocks of thousands of birds during the non-breeding season, when they concentrate in rural areas and crops, in the surroundings of human houses (sometimes close to cattle and poultry) and at roosting sites near lagoons and marshes at night. This goose is considered a "pest" in Buenos Aires province and northern Patagonia, as well as precious game species attracting hunters from Europe and North America. Besides, in the Malvinas / Falkland Islands and in some areas of southern Patagonia geese feeding in mallines are consedered sheep's competitors.



Canevari, P. 1996. The austral geese (Chloephaga spp.) of Southern Argentina and Chile: a review of its current status. Gibier Faune Sauvage, Game Wildl. 13: 355-366.

Canevari, M., P. Canevari, G.R. Carrizo, G. Harris, J. Rodríguez Mata & R. Straneck. 1991. Nueva Guía de las Aves Argentinas. Fundación Acindar. Santiago de Chile. Tome I: 200 pp. and Tome II: 182 pp.

del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott & J. Sargatal (eds). 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Ed., Barcelona.

Fjeldsa, J. & N. Krabbe. 1990. Birds of the High Andes. Zoological Museum, Univ. of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Martin, S.I., N. Tracanna & R. Summers. 1986. Distribution and habitat use of sheldgeese populations wintering in Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. Wildfowl 37: 55-62.

Narosky, T. & D. Yzurieta. 1987. Guía para la identificación de las aves de Argentina y Uruguay. Asoc. Ornitológica del Plata. Vázquez Manzini Ed. Buenos Aires. 345 pp.

Olrog, C.C. 1963. Lista y distribución de las aves argentinas. Opera Lilloana IX, Tucumán.

Olrog, C.C. 1968. Las aves sudamericanas: Una guía de campo Tomo I. Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Fundación - Instituto Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, Argentina.

Plotnick, R. 1961. Migración de las avutardas. IDIA (noviembre): 18-28.

Rodríguez Mata, J., F. Erize & M. Rumboll. 2006. Guía de Campo Collins – Aves de Sudamérica: No Passeriformes. Harper Collins Ltd.

Summers, R.W. & J.H. McAdam. 1993. The Upland Goose. A study of the interaction between geese, sheep and man in the Falkland Islands. Bluntisham Books. UK. 162 pp.

Wetlands International. 2006. Waterbird Population Estimates – Fourth Edition. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.




Authors: Daniel E. Blanco, Román Baigún & Bernabé López-Lanús

Data compiler: Pablo F. Petracci

Photographer: Roberto Güller

Recommended citation: Blanco D.E., R. Baigún & B. López-Lanús. 2008. Upland Goose in South America factsheet. Wetlands International for the Global Avian Influenza Network for Surveillance / WCS / USAID.

([1] ) For subspecies Chloephaga picta picta; not including the subspecies Ch. p. leucoptera resident in the Falkland / Malvinas Islands (138,000-255,000 birds).

([2]) Value based on a current population estimate of 100,000 birds.




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