Sunday Inspiration – Anseriformes I ~ Screamer and Magpie Goose

ANS-Anhm Southern Screamer (chauna torquata)with a Capybara by Lee at Palm Beach Zoo

Southern Screamer with a Capybara by Lee at Palm Beach Zoo

“Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. Seeing Jesus from a distance, he ran up and bowed down before Him;” (Mark 5:5-6 NASB)

Our next Order, the Anseriformes has three families. The Anhimidae – Screamers Family has only three members; the Horned, Northern and Southern Screamers. The Anseranatidae – Magpie Goose Family is even smaller. The Magpie Goose is the only member. The third family is huge with 173 species. That is the Anatidae Family which has Ducks, Geese, Swans and other water birds. Today, we will just do the first two families. Dan and I have seen the Southern Screamer at several zoos. Also, this audio, by zeno-canto of s Southern Screamer screaming.

“The screamers are a small clade of birds (Anhimidae). For a long time, they were thought to be most closely related to the Galliformes because of similar bills, but they are instead more closely related to ducks (family Anatidae), most closely to the magpie goose (which some DNA evidence suggests are closer to screamers than to ducks). The clade is exceptional within the living birds in lacking uncinate processes of ribs. The screamers are represented by three species, the horned screamer (Anhima cornuta), the southern screamer or crested screamer (Chauna torquata) and the northern screamer or black-necked screamer (Chauna chavaria). The birds’ skin has a layer about a quarter of an inch thick that is filled with small bubbles of air, which produce a crackling sound when pressed.” (Wikipedia with editing)

Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata) Closeup of head ©WikiC

Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata) Closeup of head ©WikiC

The three species occur only in South America, ranging from Colombia to northern Argentina. They are large, bulky birds, with a small downy head, long legs and large feet which are only partially webbed. They have large spurs on their wings which are used in fights over mates and territorial disputes; these can break off in the breast of other screamers, and are regularly renewed. Unlike ducks they have a partial molt, and are able to fly throughout the year. They live in open areas and marshes with some grass and feed on water plants. One species, the southern screamer, is considered a pest as it raids crops and competes with farm birds. (Wikipedia)

Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta) ©©Flickr WMCarlos

Horned Screamer (Anhima cornuta) ©©Flickr WMCarlos

The Horned Screamer is a massive 84–95 cm (33–37.5 in) long, 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) bird, with a small chicken-like bill. The upperparts, head and breast are black, with white speckles on the crown, throat and wing coverts. There is a long spiny structure projecting forward from the crown. This structure is unique among birds and is not derived from a feather but is a cornified structure that is loosely attached to the skull and grows continuously while often breaking at its tip. This gives this species its name. The belly and under wing coverts are white. It has two sharp spurs on its wings, and feet which are only partially webbed.

The horned screamer’s call, as its name suggests, is a very loud U-WHO or honking YOIK-YOK.

The horned screamer is found in lowlands from Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Suriname, French Guiana, and Guyana. It is now extinct in Trinidad and Tobago. Despite having declined locally, it remains widespread and is fairly common overall. Its range in Brazil appears to have expanded in recent years.

It lives in well-vegetated marshes and feeds on water plants. Its nest is a large pile of floating vegetation anchored in shallow water. Three olive-brown eggs are laid, and the young, like those of most Anseriformes, can run as soon as they are hatched.

ANS-Anhm Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria) ©WikiC

Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria) ©WikiC

The Northern Screamer (Chauna chavaria), also known as the black-necked screamer, is a large species of bird in the small family Anhimidae, the screamers. It is a resident breeder in northern Colombia, in Chocó, Antioquia, Córdoba, Sucre, Bolívar, Magdalena, Santander, and Cesar Departments and northwestern Venezuela, in Zulia, Mérida, and Trujillo States. On average, they are 88.9 cm (35 in) long and weigh about 3.9 kg (8.6 lb).

Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata) San Diego Zoo by Lee

Southern Screamer (Chauna torquata) San Diego Zoo by Lee

The southern screamer averages 81–95 cm (32–37 in) long and weighs 3–5 kg (6.6–11.0 lb).[3] They are the heaviest, although not necessarily the longest, of the three screamers.[4] The wingspan is around 170 cm (67 in).[5] Among standard measurements, the wing chord measures 54 cm (21 in), the tail 23.2 cm (9.1 in), the culmen 4.5 cm (1.8 in) and the long tarsus 11 cm (4.3 in).[6] It lives in tropical and sub-tropical swamps, estuaries and watersides.

The southern screamer is a good swimmer, having partially webbed feet, but prefers to move on the ground. The bony spurs on its wings are used for protection against rival screamers and other enemies. Although it is non-migratory, it is an excellent flier. It lives in large flocks, feeding on the ground in grasslands and cultivated fields until nesting season, when birds pair off.

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

The Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) is a waterbird species found in coastal northern Australia and savannah in southern New Guinea. It is a unique member of the order Anseriformes, and arranged in a family and genus distinct from all other living waterfowl. The magpie goose is a resident breeder in northern Australia and in southern New Guinea. The species was once also widespread in southern Australia, but disappeared from there largely due to the drainage of the wetlands where the birds once bred.

Magpie geese are unmistakable birds with their black and white plumage and yellowish legs. The feet are only partially webbed, and the magpie goose feeds on vegetable matter in the water, as well as on land. Males are larger than females. Unlike true geese, their molt is gradual, so no flightless period results. Their voice is a loud honking.  [I also think that top-knot would make it distinguishable] (All information Wikipedia with editing)

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“And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” (John 7:31 KJV)

“Jesus Wrought A Miracle of Love” ~ Solo by Paul Ebright


More Sunday Inspirations

Ansiformes – Waterfowl

Anhimidae – Screamers Family

Anseranatidae – Magpie Goose Family

Gospel Message


Ian’s Bird of the Week – Magpie Goose

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – Magpie Goose by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter 7-14-10

Here’s another large species characteristic of northern Australia, particular northern Queensland and the top-end of the Northern Territory, that had so far avoided the Bird of the Week net. It is found in quite large numbers around Townsville in wetland such as the Town Common, where the first photo was taken, and grazing in the stubble left after harvesting sugar cane. It’s a sedentary species and nests here in the wet season during the first four months of the year.

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

They have a pre-historic look about them and have some unusual features for a goose, or more correctly, goose-like bird. Not only the knobbed head, larger in males like the bird in the foreground in the first photo, but also the hooked beak. Both these features are more visible in the second photo. The third photo of the bird landing shows yet another oddity: the feet are only partially webbed and hence the specific name of semipalmata.

You’d be right in deducing that the Magpie Goose is only distantly related to other ducks and geese (family Anatidae) and is in fact the sole surviving member of a different lineage the family Anserantidae. These two families, along with another odd lineage the three species of Screamer in South America (Anhimidae), comprise the waterfowl order, the Anseriformes.

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Magpie Goose (Anseranas semipalmata) by Ian

Magpie Geese were once common and widespread throughout northern, eastern and southeastern Australia but were hunted to extinction in the southeast and occur naturally now only from Broome in northern Western Australia to about Brisbane in southeast Queensland. Following reintroduction it is now getting re-established in some parts of New South Wales such as the Hunter Valley and of Victoria. The second photo was taken at Tower Hill in Western Victoria. It also occurs in southern PNG.

Best wishes,

Magpie Goose
Recent Additions (to 14 species)
Ian’s Picks:
Australian (a different Pitta)
New World (it only looks like a Glossy Ibis)
Old World (just in case you dismiss starlings)
Other Wildlife (this one isn’t red)

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email:

Lee’s Addition:

The three families Ian mentioned above are the Anhimidae – Screamers, the Anseranitidae – Magpie Goose and the Anatidae – Ducks, Geese & Swans. These are all in the Anseriformes Order

Geese are not mentioned by name in the Bible, but watching out for their eggs and hatchlings are mentioned:

If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.
(Deuteronomy 22:6-7 KJV)