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

Brent Goose

Branta bernicla

  • Family: Waterfowl – Anatidae
  • Appearance: Small, dark goose.
  • Size: Length 55–62 cm (21–24 in), wingspan 105–117 cm (41–46 in), weight 860–1,250 g (2–2.7 lb).
  • Nest: Low nests built in hollows of grasses, moss and down.
  • Breeding: Usually 3–5 eggs laid in June, incubated for 24–26 days. Young able to fly within about 40 days.
  • Distribution: Breeds in coastal regions of the Siberian tundra. Often seen in Finland on migration, with occasional summer and winter observations.
  • Migration: A common passage migrant in the Gulf of Finland in late May and Sept–Oct. Large skeins and straggling flocks containing thousands of birds can be seen passing over Finland. Winters around the North Sea in Britain, Holland, Germany and Denmark.
  • Diet: In breeding areas feeds on tundra plants including buttercups (Ranunculus), cotton-grasses (Eriophorum) and sorrels (Oxyria). On migration and in wintering waters feeds on eelgrass (Zostera), although a fungal virus that wiped out eelgrass in the 1930s forced Brent Geese to switch to Salicornia plants and algae, or graze on waterside meadows. Also known to feed on molluscs and crustaceans.
  • Calls: Humming and mumbling sounds can be heard from migrating flocks of Brent Geese passing overhead.

The Brent Goose is a small, dark goose. Its head, neck and breast are entirely black, with the exception of a whitish crescent on the side of its neck, found only on adult birds. The backs and underparts of Brent Geese are also darker than on Barnacle Geese. The darker parts of young geese are somewhat brownish, with paler flanks and white tips to their primaries and tail feathers, which remain until their second summer’s moult. Brent Geese have black beaks and legs, though younger birds’ beaks have reddish tips. Their irises are brown. Almost all of the birds seen in Finland are of the nominate race Branta bernicla bernicla, though there are occasional sightings of individuals of the light-bellied Greenland and Svalbard race B .b. hrota, and the race B .b. nigricans from Eastern Siberia and North America, which has a brownish black belly and pale flanks.

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

Follow us!

Identify species!

Sivun alkuun / Top of the page