Orinoco Goose, Neochen jubata

The Orinoco Goose (Neochen jubata) is a species of bird in the Anatidae family of ducks, geese and swans. It is also in the shelduck subfamily Tadorninae. It is the only living member of the genus Neochen. The Orinoco Goose is found in the forests of tropical South America. Its habitat includes forest lakes or marshes with access to open woodland or savanna.

Fossils of two relative subspecies of Orinoco Goose have been found and described from the Late Pleistocene Epoch: Neochen pugil from Brazil; and Neochen debilis from Argentina.

The adult is 24 to 30 inches in length. It has a pale head and neck, chestnut flanks and mantle and blackish wings. The legs are red and the bill is black and pinkish. Both male and female are similar in plumage, though the male is larger, and juveniles are duller than adults.

The Orinoco Goose is largely terrestrial, but will readily perch on trees. It rarely swims or flies unless stressed to do so. In flight it looks heavy, more like a goose than a duck, hence the English name. In the breeding season it nests in hollow trees, and only occasionally on the ground. The male has a high pitched whistling call, and the female cackles.

Image Caption: Orinico Goose in Los Llanos (flatlands), Venezuela. Credit: birdphotos.com / Wikipedia (CC Attribution 3.0)