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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Streifengans (German)
Oie à tête barrée (French)
Ansar Indio (Spanish)
Ansar calvo (Spanish)

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases


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Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31B40, B94, B95, B96, B97, B108, B128.w1, B129

Other References

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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information


General information:
  • Northern (True) Geese are generally hardy and easy to manage. They are usually gregarious and many species may be kept in flocks, however they tend to be territorial and aggressive in the breeding season and some may need to be maintained in separate pens. It is often possible to keep small ducks with pairs of geese, unless the individual goose pair is particularly pugnacious. They should always be provided with adequate water for swimming.
  • For a single pair of geese a total pen area of 300m² (or 200m²  for smaller species, e.g. Branta ruficollis - Red-breasted goose), with at least 20% of this area water is suggested, although more water should be provided if possible in a larger pen (D1).
  • Geese are grazers and should have access to good short grass (less than 3 inches, 7.5cm long) for grazing. When grass is scarce, it may be supplemented with greenfood such as cabbage, lettuce etc.; alfalfa pellets have also been used for this purpose. Additional grain and pellets should be given, with a change to breeder pellets in the breeding season, at which time less or no grain may be fed. Breeding success may be decreased if these species are allowed to become too fat and this can be problematic particularly for the species which normally breed in the high Arctic.
  • Goslings may be parent hatched and reared, although being mainly terrestrial they are more vulnerable to predation than are cygnets. Whether parent or hand-reared, goslings should be provided with unlimited grazing and other green food such as chopped lettuce, as well as starter crumbs.
  • Geese species may hybridise with one another, but this is not usually a problem if they are well paired before being mixed with other birds.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B108, B128.w1, B129, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Bar-headed geese are hardy, totally winter-resistant and easy to manage. They are suitable for most collections and may be kept in mixed groups, but can be aggressive while breeding. A large area of well-sheltered water should be available, also grass for grazing. Additional feed of wheat, pellets, green food and bread should be provided, with plenty of green food always available - germinating wheat may be used in winter when grass is not available.
  • Bar-headed geese are fairly easy to breed. They prefer natural cover or a kennel-type or wigwam nest box and use nest sites on islands including wooden nest boxes on anchored floating platforms - may tolerate second pair on same platform if boxes back-to-back. They normally lay eggs in April to May, but the start of laying may be delayed after a long cold winter; they may also lay a second clutch. Goslings may be parent hatched and reared, although this may not result in a high survival rate. Bar-headed goslings are not difficult to rear, although survival is decreased in rain and cold.
  • Unmated birds may hybridise readily with other Anser spp.; hybrids have also been reported with Branta spp. including Branta leucopsis - Barnacle goose, and Tadorna spp. including with Tadorna variegata - Paradise shelduck, Tadorna tadorna - Common shelduck, Tadorna tadornoides - Australian shelduck.

(J23.13.w13, B29, B31, B96, B97, B108).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: P 14.0mm (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 29-30 inches, 71-76cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General 2000-3000g (B3, B1); 4.5-7 lbs. (B8)
Male --
Female --
Newly-hatched weight 83g (J23.13.w13).
Growth rate Weight increase from 83g at hatching to 2234g by 60d (J23.13.w13).

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Adult Bill Male Yellow-orange
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Yellow-orange
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown.

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Adult Male Orange.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Greenish-yellow.

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Adult Male
  • Head and sides of neck white, with two horizontal black bars, one from eye to eye across rear crown, second line below this. Hindneck blackish, foreneck dark grey.
  • Body generally silvery grey, rear flanks darkest; pale feather tips give indistinct barring.
  • Ventral area and tail-coverts white, tail grey with white border.
  • Wings coverts mid to light grey, flight feathers blackish.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Head and neck pale grey with dark brown line through eyes, across crown and down hindneck.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts pale grey-brown with darker patches around eyes and on crown, underparts pale yellow
Bill: Grey.
Feet: Grey.

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Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins late May/June.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

On ground, often on islands in marshy lakes but also on rocky outcrops and sometimes in trees (probably using old nests of other species); shallow nest of vegetation.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-6 (B1).
Range 2-8 (B1); 4-9 (B8).
Egg Description White. Size: 82 x 55mm, weight: 141g (B3)

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27-30 days (B1, B8).

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About 53 days (B1); 60 days (B8)

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two years old.
Females Two years old.

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Feeding Behaviour

Adults Mostly grazing on land, also forage in water.
Newly-hatched Parents lead to lake margins.

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building In colonies. Nest constructed by female.
Incubation By female.
Newly-hatched Guarded by both parents. Broods sometimes merge.

Remain with parents until the following breeding season

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Highly gregarious even in the breeding season.
Inter-specific --

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong permanent pair bonds.

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Predation in Wild


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Activity Patterns

Circadian --

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Natural Diet


Basically vegetarian. Grasses, roots, stems and green parts of various plants and sedges. Winter also grain, tubers, other vegetables and seaweeds on coasts.

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Insect larvae and leaves of aquatic plants and sedges.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)


Breeding in Central Asia, mainly Mongolia, China. Winter in northern India and surrounding area (Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, and Pakistan).

Mostly migratory.

Occasional and Accidental




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Breeding: On highland plateaux 4000-5000m, on wetlands (marshes and lake shores), near rocky outcrops. Winter: lowland swamps, lakes, and rivers.

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Intraspecific variation


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Conservation Status

Wild Population -

May be considered near-threatened, numbers having declined markedly in the twentieth century. (B1, B8)

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats Shooting, egg collecting and habitat loss (B1).

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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