Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Anser indicus
(bar-headed goose)

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Datasheet

Anser indicus (bar-headed goose)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 19 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Anser indicus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • bar-headed goose
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • A. indicus has been introduced to several countries but has established a substantial breeding population only in the <_st13a_place _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Netherlands...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Anser indicus (bar-headed goose); a bar-headed goose in St James's Park, London, England. November, 2006.
TitleFeral bird
CaptionAnser indicus (bar-headed goose); a bar-headed goose in St James's Park, London, England. November, 2006.
Copyright©David Iliff-2006 - CC BY 2.5
Anser indicus (bar-headed goose); a bar-headed goose in St James's Park, London, England. November, 2006.
Feral birdAnser indicus (bar-headed goose); a bar-headed goose in St James's Park, London, England. November, 2006.©David Iliff-2006 - CC BY 2.5

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Anser indicus (Latham, 1790)

Preferred Common Name

  • bar-headed goose

Other Scientific Names

  • Anser indica Latham, 1790
  • Eulabeia indica (Latham, 1790)

Local Common Names

  • France: oie à tête barrée
  • Germany: Streifengans
  • Italy: oca indiana
  • Netherlands: Indische gans; streepkopgans
  • Spain: ansar indio
  • Sweden: stripgås

Summary of Invasiveness

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A. indicus has been introduced to several countries but has established a substantial breeding population only in the <_st13a_place _w3a_st="on"><_st13a_country-region _w3a_st="on">Netherlands, where 100–125 pairs are present (Banks et al., 2008).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Anseriformes
  •                         Family: Anatidae
  •                             Genus: Anser
  •                                 Species: Anser indicus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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Anser indicus, the bar-headed goose, is the only true goose native to central southern Asia and is well separated genetically from other Anser species. Some authors have placed it in its own genus (Eulabeia).

Description

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A. indicus is a typical Anser ‘grey goose’ in size and shape, with a pale greyish body, dark-tipped yellow bill, pale orange legs and a white head with a dark bar from eye to eye across the upper nape and a second bar across the lower nape. In flight it appears pale with a blackish trailing edge to the wing. For more details see for example Kear (2005).

Distribution

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A. indicus is native to central Asia (breeding) and southern Asia (wintering); small introduced populations are present in parts of Europe and North America. There is no systematic information on where it is held in captivity, although it is thought to be numerous in wildfowl collections. Partly in consequence, information is also likely to be poor on where isolated escapes or releases have occurred.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AfghanistanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
BangladeshPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
BhutanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
ChinaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-GansuPresentNativeLepage, 2010a
-GuizhouPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Cao Hai Nature Reserve
-JiangsuPresentWetlands International, 2010Yancheng Marshes
-Nei MengguPresentNativeHe et al., 2010Taolimiao-Alashan Nur
-QinghaiPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Koko Nor
-ShaanxiPresentNativeWetlands International, 2010Shan Men Xia Nature Reserve
-ShanxiPresentNativeWetlands International, 2010Shan Men Xia Nature reserve
-SichuanPresentNativeMyers et al., 2010Ruoergai Marshes
-TibetPresentNativeBishop et al., 1997
-XinjiangPresentNativeMa and Cai, 1999
-YunnanPresentNativeHornbuckle, 2002Napa Hai Lake
IndiaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-Andhra PradeshPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-AssamPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-BiharPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-HaryanaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-Jammu and KashmirPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-KarnatakaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-Madhya PradeshPresentNative
-OdishaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-RajasthanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
-Tamil NaduPresentNative
JapanPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
KazakhstanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2011
Korea, Republic ofPresent, few occurrences2003Native Not invasive Lepage, 2010bHan-Imjin River
KyrgyzstanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Breeds
LaosPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
MongoliaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Breeds
MyanmarPresentIntroducedBirdLife International, 2009
NepalPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
PakistanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
TajikistanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Breeds
ThailandPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
UzbekistanPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009
VietnamPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009

North America

CanadaPresentIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
USAPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-FloridaPresentIntroduced1995 Not invasive FWC, 2009

Europe

AustriaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000
BelgiumLocalisedIntroducedVermeersch et al., 2006; Banks et al., 2008
Czech RepublicPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000
EstoniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1974 Not invasive NOBANIS, 2009
FinlandLocalisedIntroduced1982Blair et al., 2000Approx. 2 breeding pairs
FranceLocalisedIntroduced1999Dubois, 2007
GermanyLocalisedIntroduced1956Bauer and Woog, 200815-18 breeding pairs
IcelandPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1974 Not invasive Blair et al., 2000NOBANIS database
ItalyLocalisedIntroduced1969 Not invasive Blair et al., 2000In 10 provinces
LatviaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced1998 Not invasive NOBANIS, 2009
NetherlandsLocalisedIntroduced1973Voslamber et al., 2007100-125 breeding pairs
PolandPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive NOBANIS, 2009
RomaniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedBlair et al., 2000
Russian FederationPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-Western SiberiaPresentNativeBirdLife International, 2009Altai Mountains
SpainPresent, few occurrencesIntroducedBanks et al., 2008
SwedenLocalisedIntroducedcirca 1930Blair et al., 2000Kalmarsund
SwitzerlandLocalisedIntroduced1990sBanks et al., 2008
UKLocalisedIntroduced1960sBanks et al., 2008Approx. 10 breeding pairs
-Channel IslandsPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Austin et al., 2008Grouville Marsh
UkraineLocalisedIntroducedBlair et al., 2000Ascania-Nova

Oceania

GuamPresent, few occurrencesNativeBirdLife International, 2009
Micronesia, Federated states ofPresent, few occurrencesNativeBirdLife International, 2009
PalauPresent, few occurrencesNativeBirdLife International, 2009

History of Introduction and Spread

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A. indicus is known to have been present in the UK since the 1960s, but little was known of it until 1991, when 85 free-flying birds were counted (Delany, 1993). It has also been present since the 1960s in Germany and Italy, and since 1973 in the Netherlands. Breeding has been recorded in at least six European countries but is sporadic almost everywhere and has produced very little population growth. The species is increasing and spreading in the Netherlands and Belgium (Banks et al., 2008).

It is thought likely that escaped specimens occur in a number of locations (for example in the USA, where there are some informal reports) from which they have not been formally reported.

Risk of Introduction

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Blair et al. (2000) consider that, once a critical population level is reached, this species could follow the Canada goose, Branta canadensis, in being invasive across much of Europe (B. canadensis has established very large and rapidly expanding self-sustaining populations in many parts of Europe, where it causes nuisance and health hazards on amenity grasslands and economic damage on farmland, and is aggressive towards native wildfowl and may compete with them for resources).

Habitat

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A. indicus occupies high-altitude zones of central <_st13a_city _w3a_st="on">Asia for breeding and winters by lowland lakes and rivers.

Habitat List

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CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Multiple
Terrestrial
Terrestrial – ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
Wetlands Principal habitat Natural
Cold lands / tundra Principal habitat Natural
Rocky areas / lava flows Principal habitat Natural
Freshwater
 
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Reservoirs Principal habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

Although hybridisation is known to occur with Canada geese Branta canadensis, lesser white-fronted geese Anser erythropus and greylag geese Anser anser, among other species, no fertile hybrids are known between A. indicus and other species of geese.
 
Reproductive Biology
 
A. indicus in its native range in central Asia nests at high altitude by saline and freshwater lakes and by rivers, sometimes singly but more usually in colonies estimated at over 1000 pairs (Ma and Cai, 1999). Nesting begins in early or mid May, with an incubation period of 27–30 days and a fledging period for young birds of 49–60 days. In captivity in Europe, nesting begins in mid April.
 
Physiology and Phenology
 
As a specialist breeding bird of high altitudes, A. indicus has only a brief summer period in which to arrive, raise young and depart for snow-free wintering grounds. Breeding begins in mid May. Adults undergo a complete moult during late summer, during which they become flightless, and both adults and young are fit to undertake migration or dispersal by August or September. The species has unique physiological adaptations that enable it to migrate at high altitudes across the Himalayas (Scott et al., 2009). Birds have been observed migrating at altitudes of up to 10,175 m above sea level (Swan, 1970).
 
Nutrition
 
The diet is mainly grasses, water plants, leaves, seeds and berries, but also includes animal matter including small insects and crustaceans (Gole, 1982; Middleton and Van der Valk, 1987).

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
Aw - Tropical wet and dry savanna climate Preferred < 60mm precipitation driest month (in winter) and < (100 - [total annual precipitation{mm}/25])
BS - Steppe climate Preferred > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Preferred < 430mm annual precipitation
Cw - Warm temperate climate with dry winter Preferred Warm temperate climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry winters)
Df - Continental climate, wet all year Preferred Continental climate, wet all year (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, wet all year)
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
Dw - Continental climate with dry winter Preferred Continental climate with dry winter (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry winters)
ET - Tundra climate Preferred Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
11-60

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Movements of A. indicus from breeding grounds in western Mongolia across Tibet and the eastern Himalayas to eastern India have recently been tracked by satellite (FAO, 2009). Many birds from this group, however, amounting to more than 25% of the world population, winter in Tibet (Bishop et al., 1997). Birds breeding in western parts of the range in Kyrgyzstan and western China are thought to migrate across the western Himalayas to wintering grounds in Pakistan and northwest India. Among introduced birds, vagrancy from other European countries is believed to be responsible for sightings in Austria and Romania (Banks et al., 2008).

Accidental Introduction
 
Accidental introduction of A. indicus will have occurred wherever the species is kept in captivity, as occasional individuals have escaped from wildfowl collections, or as young hatched within the collection but left unpinioned have dispersed away.
 
Intentional Introduction
 
Intentional introductions of A. indicus have not been documented but may be responsible for the concentrations recorded for example at Stratfield Saye in the UK (Delany, 1993) and perhaps in the Netherlands.

 

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Environment (generally) Negative

Economic Impact

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A. indicus feeds on agricultural land in India on crops such as barley, rice and wheat (Gole, 1982), but no reports of agricultural damage are known.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitats

Along with other introduced wildfowl, A. indicus add to the trampling and fouling of amenity grasslands and to the eutrophication of park lakes.
 
Impact on Biodiversity
 
Introduced A. indicus interbreed readily with other geese, including other introduced species such as the swan goose A. cygnoides (Appleton, 2010) but, as far as is known, do not produce fertile hybrids.

Social Impact

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An outbreak of Avian Influenza (HPAI) H5N1 at Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) in western China in 2005 was responsible for the death of several thousand A. indicus (FAO, 2009). The outbreak spread north to Erkhel Lake, Mongolia, and may have been carried there by migrating geese of this species. This incident raised concern that this species could in theory carry the disease, which can be fatal to humans, to wetlands close to Indian centres of population.

Risk and Impact Factors

Top of page Invasiveness
  • Abundant in its native range
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Highly mobile locally
  • Long lived
  • Gregarious
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
Impact mechanisms
  • Hybridization
  • Interaction with other invasive species
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally

Uses

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Economic Value

A. indicus
is hunted along its migration flyways (Gole, 1997) and eggs are also collected at some breeding colonies.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

General

  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

  • Eggs
  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)
  • Oil/fat

Prevention and Control

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SPS measures

Most European countries and North American states and provinces have laws intended to control trade in non-native species and the circumstances in which they can be released. These should cover non-native geese, but may either exclude translocations within a country or trading zone or be difficult or impossible to enforce where no import/export controls apply.
 
Public awareness
 
There is clearly a need for increasing public awareness of the dangers of introducing non-native geese to new areas and of translocating them within areas where they already occur.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further and more detailed information is needed on the impacts of A. indicus, to strengthen the case for control measures and to discourage further introductions and translocations.

References

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Appleton D, 2010. Hybrid geese. unpaginated. http://www.gobirding.eu/Photos/HybridGeese

Austin GE; Collier MP; Calbrade NA; Hall C; Musgrove AJ, 2008. Waterbirds in the UK 2006/07: the wetland bird survey. Waterbirds in the UK 2006/07: the wetland bird survey. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology/Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust/Royal Society for the Protection of Birds/Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

Banks AN; Wright LJ; Maclean IMD; Hann C; Rehfisch MM, 2008. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 489.]

Bauer HG; Woog F, 2008. Non-native and naturalized bird species (neozoa) in Germany, part I: occurrence, population size and status. Vogelwarte, 46:157-194.

BirdLife International, 2009. Species factsheet: Anser indicus. Species factsheet: Anser indicus. unpaginated. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=379

BirdLife International, 2011. Species factsheet: Anser indicus. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/speciesfactsheet.php?id=379

Bishop MA; Song Y; Canjue Z; Gu B, 1997. Bar-headed Geese wintering in south-central Tibet. Wildfowl, 48:118-126.

Blair MJ; McKay H; Musgrove AJ; Rehfisch MM, 2000. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 229.]

Delany S, 1993. Introduced and escaped geese in Britain in summer 1991. British Birds, 86:591-599.

Dubois PJ, 2007. Les espèces d'oiseaux allochtones en France. Paris, France: LPO.

FAO, 2009. Mongolia bar-headed goose. Mongolia bar-headed goose. Rome, Italy: FAO Animal Production and Health Division, unpaginated. http://www.fao.org/avianflu/en/wildlife/sat_telemetry_mong_bar.htm

FWC, 2009. Bar-headed goose - Anser indicus. Bar-headed goose - Anser indicus. Tallahassee, Florida, USA: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, unpaginated. http://myfwc.org/wildlifehabitats/nonnatives/birds/bar-headed-goose/

Gole P, 1982. Status of Anser indicus in Asia with special reference to India. Aquila, 89:141-149.

Gole P, 1997. The elusive Bar-headed Goose. J. Ecol. Soc, 10:3-5.

He FQ; Ren YQ; Bai XF, 2010. Preview of the No. 1148 Ramsar Site on the Ordos upland of western Inner Mongolia. Chinese Birds, 1(1):80-81.

Hornbuckle J, 2002. Birding in Yunnan, Southwest China 8-31 March 2002. unpaginated. http://www.worldtwitch.com/yunnan_jh

Kear J, 2005. Ducks, Geese and Swans. Volume 1. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Lepage D, 2010. Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. Gansu. unpaginated. http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/checklist.jsp?region=cnga&list=ioc&lang=EN

Lepage D, 2010. Avibase - Bird Checklists of the World. South Korea. unpaginated. http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/checklist.jsp?region=kr&list=howardmoore

Lever C, 2005. Naturalised birds of the world. London, UK: T & AD Poyser.

Ma M; Cai D, 1999. Breeding ecology of Bar-headed Goose in Tianshan, Xinjiang. Casarca, 5:177-181.

Middleton B; Valk AGvan der, 1987. The food habits of Greylag and Bar-headed Geese in the Keoladeo National Park, India. Wildfowl, 38:93-102.

Myers P; Espinosa R; Parr CS; Jones T; Hammond GS; Dewey TA, 2010. The animal diversity web. unpaginated. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/index

NOBANIS, 2009. North European and Baltic Network on Invasive Alien Species. Gateway to information on Invasive Alien species in North and Central Europe. http://www.nobanis.org/default.asp

Scott GR; Egginton S; Richards JG; Milsom WK, 2009. Evolution of muscle phenotype for extreme high altitude flight in the bar-headed goose. Proc. R. Soc. B, 276(1673):3645-3653.

SOVON, 2002. Atlas van de Nederlandse Broedvogels 1998-2000. Leiden, Netherlands: Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis, KNNV Uitgeverij & European Invertebrate Survey-Nederland. [Nederlandse Fauna 5.]

Swan LW, 1970. Goose of the Himalayas. Natural History, 79:68-75.

Vermeersch G; Anselin A; Devos K, 2006. Bijzondere broedvogels in Vlaanderen in de periode 1994-2005: populatietrends en recente status van zeldzame, kolonievormende en exotische broedvogels in Vlaanderen ([English title not available]). Brussels, Belgium: Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek, 64 pp.

Voslamber B; Jeugd H van der; Koffijberg K, 2007. [English title not available]. (Aantallen, trends en verspreiding van overzomerende ganzen in Nederland.) Limosa, 80:1-17.

Wetlands International, 2010. Ramsar sites information service. unpaginated. http://ramsar.wetlands

Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Avian influenza - telemetry studeis - bar-headed goosehttp://www.fao.org/avianflu/en/wildlife/sat_telemetry_mong_bar.htm
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commissionhttp://myfwc.com
GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gatewayhttps://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.m93f6Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS)http://griis.org/Data source for updated system data added to species habitat list.

Organizations

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World: BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge, CB3 0NA, UK, http://www.birdlife.org

Contributors

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31/08/09 Original text by:

John Marchant, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK

Distribution Maps

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