Greylag Goose Anser anser   [Linnaeus, 1758]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: GJ, GREGO EURING No: 1610
Number in Britain: 46 thousand Pairs (Summer)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (AC2C4)  Introduced/Resident Breeder, Winter Migrant
Subspecies: anser recorded in Britain (of 2 subsp. in the world)
Length: 82 cm Wingspan: 164 cm Weight: M: 3.6 kg   F: 3 kg    
Scientific name from: L.: anser=a goose and L.: anser=a goose
World Distribution: BREEDS: n&c Eurasia, WINTERS: south to n Africa & s Asia
Habitat: Reedbed, marsh, estuaries & lakes
Diet: Plant material, incl. roots, tubers, shoots, leaves, both in water and on land
TitBit: Traditionally eaten at Michaelmas, Mrs Beeton recommends cooking with a glass of port or wine to which has been added a teaspoon of mustard, some salt and a few grains of cayenne pepper.  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos BTO ID Workshop

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: BirdTrends   
Regional Trends: England   English Regions
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore    BBS Maps
British Population Size:
    Summer: 46 thousand Pairs in
    Winter: 220 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2009/10
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from Middle Pleistocene, c. 500,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2011) British Birds 104:364-397
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Localised Non-breeding Population, Important Non-breeding Population
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern: anser AMBER (Rare or Localised)
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    Most frequent in: Reedbed
Relative Frequency in Each Habitat:
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: 100 to 145 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WCA(I,II), WBD(II*,III*), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Text from the Waterbird Review Series

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 86 x 58 mm Egg Weight: 160.0 g (of which 13 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 22
Clutch Size: 5 - 7 eggs
Incubation: 27- 28 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 50 - 60days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Unavailable
Number of Broods: 1
See trends in Breeding Productivity
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.830       
Juvenile Survival: 0.560 (to age 3 )  
Age at First Breeding: 3 years Typical Lifespan: 8 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 18 years 8 months 2 days (set in 1984)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: L*
Wing Length Adult: 448.1 17.6 Range 420 - 477 mm, N =1203
Juvenile: 431.3 15.1 407 - 455 mm, N =857
Male: 458.8 13.7 436 - 481 mm, N =596
Female: 436.3 13.4 415 - 460 mm, N =564
Weight Adult: 3.34 0.35 Range 2.80 - 3.90 kg , N =1149
Juvenile: 2.92 0.34 2.40 - 3.46 kg , N =820
Male: 3.49 0.31 3.00 - 4.00 kg , N =568
Female: 3.18 0.31 2.70 - 3.80 kg , N =539
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Gadh-glas Welsh: Gwydd Wylla
Danish: Grgs Dutch: Grauwe gans
Finnish: Merihanhi French: Oie cendre
German: Graugans Hungarian: Nyri ld
Icelandic: Grgs Irish: G Ghlas
Italian: Oca selvatica Norwegian: Grgs
Polish: Gegawa (ges gegawa) Portuguese: Ganso-comum
Spanish: Ansar comn Swedish: Grgs
Collective Noun:Gaggle

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Scheiber, I.S.C. et al. (eds) 2013 The social life of greylag geese Cambridge University Press [598.483 SCH]
   Kempe-Persson, H. 2002 BWP Update 4:181-216
   Lorenz, K. 1988 Here am I, where are you: the behavior of the greylag Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York [591.7 LOR]
See Also:
Find scientific papers on Google Scholar or Scirus by clicking the icon
Wikipedia entry
HBW account (subscription required)
BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides