You might call Andy a bit of an odd duck, except that he’s a goose.
He’s a goose — but this goose doesn’t swim and prefers to live at dizzying heights, where he motors around the mountains with sure-footed ease…
Think of him as a goat with wings
Andy’s an Andean Goose, and he makes his home at altitudes as high as 14,100 feet for a fascinating reason…
You see, his red blood cells contain an amazing mutation of hemoglobin, which permits it to carry a far greater load of oxygen. In other words, Andy extracts much more oxygen from the air he breathes—something for which Olympic athletes would give their eye teeth.
This means Andy’s happy as a mountain-climbing clam, way up in the South America’s Andes mountain range—seeking out grassy plateaus high as 9,000 to 14,100 feet. The air’s thin up here, but Andy’s adapted perfectly for this, and his strong wing muscles allow him to fly at high elevations too.
His features are the prettiest of any goose I’ve ever photographed…
I mean, just look at that sweet, dainty face! I especially love Andy’s hooked, dark-tipped bill, which reminds me a tad of a dodo’s. I’m not quite sure what purpose the hook serves —perhaps it helps him preen?
Andean Geese typically hang out in small flocks around mountain pools, where they consume a heavily vegan diet of grass, grass, and more sweet mountain grass.
But why doesn’t he swim?
Don’t get me wrong—Andy can swim, but he plunges into the water only in emergencies or when raising (and protecting!) chicks. He and his lifetime mate typically make their nests near mountain ponds, but otherwise, they have no love of the maritime life.
Why? Bluntly put, Andy’s a slow, awkward swimmer. His feet are too small and his legs too short compared to, say, a Canada Goose.
However, the same small feet and stocky legs that make him a klutz on the water give Andy a super advantage on mountain terrain. You’d be astonished to see him scooting around the rocks like, well, like a goat.
Personally, I adore him, odd though he may be. I’ve never seen such an endearing goose, but how do YOU like Andy?
Am I right, or do you find him boring? Please let me know with your COMMENT and LIKE! Thanks dear Follower—you’re the best!