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Bar-headed goose had to be one raised in captivity

I saw a goose in the Provolt pond (by Highway 238) in October that I had never seen before. It looked pretty amazing with two bars on its head. It wasn't until later when I was flying from Pittsburgh to Florida and picked up a November issue of Scientific American and read "Olympians of the Sky" that I realized what I had seen in Provolt was a bar-headed goose. Now I'm wondering whether it flew off course and somehow ended up here from India. Or could it be a domesticated goose?

— G.L., Applegate

It took us a while here at SYA's Bird Brain Center to realize you weren't taking us on a wild goose chase about some bird waddling to the nearest bar for a little nip, G.L.

Sorry, our contract requires us to make one fowl, er, foul joke a year. We like to trot it out early to give our readers time to forget our low-brow humor.

First, we want to congratulate you on your reading material. Good stuff.

As the "Olympians of the Sky" illustrates, these birds are incredible creatures that breed in central Asia, then fly high over the Himalayas to spend the winter in India and Burma. In the wild, they are the highest flying birds in the world, according to the experts.

They also are attractive birds with two bars of brownish-black-colored feathers wrapping around the back of their heads with white on their faces and necks. They have broad wings to give them lift in the thin air.

Your bird no doubt had a light gray body with an orange bill and legs. Because of its unique appearance, it has been widely domesticated.

We sent an email to Pepper Trail of Ashland, a nationally known scientist who has led bird tours into the Amazon Basin and other regions.

"These are amazing birds that regularly migrate over Mount Everest," he responded. "However, they are also fairly common in captivity, and I have no doubt that this goose is one of those."

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.