British Waterfowl Association

Ashy-headed Goose

A pair of Ashy-headed Geese
Ashy-headed geese — Pinola Conservancy
Ashy-headed goose defending
Ashy-headed Goose defending — Phoebe Vaughan
Ashy-headed Goose and juvenile
Wild Ashy-headed Goose and juvenile — Alan Henry

Chloephaga poliocephala

The attractive Ashy-headed Goose, a small sheldgoose, is confined to Chile and southern Argentina. It is a partial migrant, with birds moving north during the austral winter. It is a rare visitor to the Falkland Islands, where it has bred. In summer it favours swampy ground, often in wooded landscapes, but in winter it moves to open grasslands, where pairs and families may join together to create small flocks. It swims rarely, except when accompanying its young or during the annual moult.

Ashy-headed gosling
Ashy-headed gosling — Pinola Conservancy
Ashy-headed gander — Richard Talbott

Unlike the closely related Kelp Goose and Upland Goose, both sexes have similar plumage. These geese have a long history of persecution, for they are regarded as competitors with sheep for grass, and they will also graze fields of winter wheat. Though classified as a species of least concern, little is known about the size of the overall population.

Ashy-headed Goose nesting in a log teepee.
Ashy-headed Goose nesting in a log teepee. A log has been removed to view the bird better — Ian Gereg.

Ring Size


This size is only a guide. Please read more about ringing here.

Ashy-headed Geese form long-term pair bonds. The clutch of the 5-7 eggs is usually well hidden in tussock grass or even in trees; incubation is by the female alone and takes 30 days. These geese have long been popular in collections.