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< >  Branta bernicla - Brent goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Brant
Brant goose
Brent
Bernache cravant (French)
Ringelgans (German)
Barnacla carinegra (Spanish)
Branta (Spanish)
Rotgans (Dutch)
Prutgås (Swedish)
Light-bellied Brent Branta bernicla hrota
Atlantic Brent Branta bernicla hrota
Dark-bellied Brent Branta bernicla bernicla
Russian Brent Branta bernicla bernicla
Black Brent Branta bernicla nigricans
Pacific Brent Branta bernicla nigricans
(Lawrence's Brent Branta bernicla orientalis)= B. nigricans
Branta nigricans
Black Brent
Bernicla brenta

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B4, B8, B19, B24, B25

Other references:
B138

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B97, B108, B128.w1, B129
D1, D8

ORGANISATIONS
(UK Contacts)

ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

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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

Notes

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:

  • Brent geese are generally hardy and not difficult to keep; they are attractive as small flocks but require space and good grazing. Large enclosures with plentiful short grazing, a clear, cold lake and shade available are suggested. Feed with grain, pellets, plenty of green food, and bread in addition to grass.
  • These geese are generally not easy to breed; some subspecies breed in captivity better than others. They nest in grass in secluded areas, also in boxes and large baskets. Eggs laid mainly in May (Slimbridge, UK) (B31); May to June B29) and Black Brant mid June to July (B29). Goslings should be protected from excessive heat, fed on starter crumbs and duckweed, and should be put out on short grass when a few days old.
  • Hybridisation is very rare, but has been reported with Branta spp. such as Branta canadensis - Canada goose, Branta leucopsis - Barnacle goose and also Anser species.

(B29, B30, B31, B94, B97, B129).

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: P 14.0mm (orientalis 12.0mm) (D8).

Individual Techniques linked in Wildpro

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 22-26 inches, 55-66cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General 1200-2250g (B1).
Male 1400-2250g (B3).
Female 1200-1769g (B3).
Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

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

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Legs

Adult Male Black.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Black.

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Plumage

Adult Male Head, neck and breast black, with small white line/narrow patch diagonally high on sides of neck.

Upperparts and wings dark grey-brown, flight feathers black.

Tail black, ventral region and elongated tail-coverts white.

Abdomen and flanks grey-brown, flanks and sides of abdomen with pale feather tips forming bars.

Variations (If present) Branta bernicla nigricans darker: abdomen and flanks dark brown with white feather edges on flanks. White patches on neck meet on foreneck.

Branta bernicla hrota paler: abdomen and flanks whitish with dark barring on rear flanks.

Juvenile White edges to underparts, less white markings on throat.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts grey, underparts whitish.
Bill: Dark grey.
Feet: Dark grey.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins June.
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

On the ground, usually close to water, a shallow depression with a lining of grass, moss and down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 3-5 (B1)
Range 1-10 (B1); 3-5 (B8)
Egg Description Cream, yellowish, greenish or pale olive (B3, B8). Size: 75 x47mm. (B3).

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Incubation

About 24-26 days (B1); 22-28 (mean 24) days (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

About 40 days (B1); 40-50 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two to three years old.
Females Two to three years old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Grazes on land, also feeds in shallow water, swimming and up-ending. Usually feeds in flocks outside breeding season
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building In colonies. Build by both birds.
Incubation By female only.
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents.
Juveniles

Remain with parents until following breeding season.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Gregarious. Found in flocks except in breeding season.
Inter-specific Sometimes nest near Snowy owl as a protection against Arctic foxes.

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Sexual Behaviour

Strong permanent pair bond.

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Predation in Wild

Arctic fox.

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Activity Patterns

Daily feeding and resting patterns depend on the tides (since feeding on moist intertidal flats), therefore may feed and rest at any time of the day or night.
Circadian --

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian. Breeding season: grasses, mosses, lichens and aquatic plants. Winter: marine algae, seaweed and other aquatic plants.

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Newly-hatched

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal
  • Branta bernicla hrota Northern Canada, Greenland
  • Branta bernicla bernicla North-central Siberia
  • Branta bernicla nigricans North-eastern Siberia

Migratory to north-west Europe and south to Mediterranean region; eastern Asia (around Yellow Sea) including Japan, China; North America (Atlantic and Pacific coasts). Seen further south in very cold winters.

London: In the London Area, "formerly scarce migrant and winter visitor, greatly increased in recent years." Seen at various reservoirs, Rainham Marsh, The Wetland Centre at Barnes (WWT) and other sites. (J322.65.w1)

Occasional and Accidental

Rarely to north Africa and Hawaiian Islands.

Introduced

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Habitat

Breeding: low Arctic tundra, near coast. Winter: estuaries and sandy shores. Moist inter-tidal flats provide a major feeding area.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Light-bellied Brent Branta bernicla hrota
Atlantic Brent Branta bernicla hrota
Dark-bellied Brent Branta bernicla bernicla
Russian Brent Branta bernicla bernicla
Black Brent Branta bernicla nigricans
Pacific Brent Branta bernicla nigricans
Lawrence's Brent Branta bernicla orientalis

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Not considered threatened (B1).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Reasonable well represented in collections (B8).

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Trade

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