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© Copyright: Images: Jari Peltomäki, Jouko Lehmuskallio, M. & W. von Wright: Svenska fåglar (Kansalliskirjasto, The National Library of Finland). Recording: Jan-Erik Bruun. All rights reserved.

Barnacle Goose

Branta leucopsis

  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: A smallish goose with pronounced black, white and grey markings.
  • Size: Length 58–70 cm (23–27 in), wingspan 120–142 cm (47–55 in), weight 1.8–2 kg (2.2–4.4 lb).
  • Nest: Made of various plant material, lined with down.
  • Breeding: Lays 2–9 eggs (most commonly 4–5), incubated for 24–25 days. Goslings can fly within 40-45 days of hatching. Nests on dry land, often in colonies.
  • Distribution: Natural breeding range extends through Novaya Zemlya, Svalbard and Greenland. Formerly seen in Finland only as passage migrants, but today also breeds along most of the Finnish coast, from Kokkola to Virolahti, and on inland waters including the lakes Oulujärvi, Päijänne and Vesijärvi (near Lahti). First bred in Finland only in the early 1980s, but today the national breeding population amounted to 4,000–5,000 pairs, with some 700 pairs nesting in the Helsinki region. Winters around the North Sea, in Britain and Holland.
  • Migration: Arctic population migrates southwards Sept–Nov, mainly in Oct, returning April–June (mainly around mid May). Birds breeding in Finland head south later in the autumn than arctic breeders, and return north sooner in the spring.
  • Diet: Various plants, grazed on waterside meadows, fields and lawns.
  • Calls: The calls of migrating flocks resemble dogs barking.

Barnacle Geese have ash grey backs and greyish white underbellies. They resemble Canada Geese, but have white foreheads, and the black colouring on their necks extends down to their breasts and a clear boundary with their pale bellies, whereas this boundary is on the lower necks of Canada Geese. Barnacle Geese also lack the typical brown body colouring of Canada Geese. Young Barnacle Geese have grey streaks on the black parts of their plumage, and brown markings near the tips of their back and wing feathers may persist even after moulting, so the black parts of their plumage remain brownish even into their second summer. Barnacle Geese have black beaks and legs, and brown irises.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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