Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis   [Bechstein, 1803]

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Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae
BTO Codes: BY, BARGO EURING No: 1670
Number in Britain: 94 thousand birds (Winter)
Conservation Status:
European: Not a species of concern
Global: (Details)
Status in UK: (AC2)  Escaped Breeder, Winter Visitor
Subspecies: Monotypic
Length: 64 cm Wingspan: 138 cm Weight: M/F: 1.7 kg    
Scientific name from: ON: brandgas=burnt goose and Gr.: leukos + opsis=face
World Distribution: BREEDS: e Greenland, Spitsbergen, nc Russia WINTERS: south to s Europe
Habitat: Marsh, rivers, on migration also estuaries
Diet: Mostly shoots and leaves
TitBit: This goose was once thought to start life as Goose Barnacles growing on driftwood, perhaps because none had ever seen its nest (unsurprisingly, since it breeds in the Arctic).  
Identification Tips:
  Images from IBC or search flickr
  Videos from IBC
  Sound from xeno-canto
Crossley ID photos

Population and Distribution

Population Trend: No population trend available
Distribution: Atlas Mapstore   
British Population Size:
    Winter: 94 thousand individuals in 2004/05 - 2009/10
    Summer: 900 Pairs in
    First Record: Recorded in Anglo-Saxon times [Fossil evidence from Devensian (last) glaciation, 10-120,000 yr ago]
    Latest Survey: Musgrove, A. et al. (2011) British Birds 104:364-397
    Conservation Status: AMBER because Localised Non-breeding Population,
   Previous Assessments: 2002-2007 AMBER     1996-2001 AMBER  
   Races of Concern:
Habitat Occupancy (in the Breeding Season):
    No habitat data from BBS
Migration routes: Map of foreign ringing recoveries  and summary map from Time to Fly (in pop-up windows)
European Population Size:
    Summer: 18 to 21 thousand pairs
Population Assesment from Birds in Europe
Distribution in Europe mapped by the EBCC Atlas
Listed on the Appendices/Schedules of: WBD(I), Bern(III), Bonn(II), AEWA
Survey Results: Results from BirdTrack
Text from the Waterbird Review Series

Breeding and Survival

Egg Size: 77 x 50 mm Egg Weight: 107.0 g (of which 10 % is shell)
Number of Nest Records: 6
Clutch Size: 4 - 5 eggs
Incubation: 24- 25 days   by the: Female
Fledging: 40 - 45days as: Precocial, downy
First Clutches Laid: Does not breed in Britain, or too few Nest Records
Number of Broods: 1
Number Ringed: Annual Totals
Adult Survival: 0.910    (Sexes similar)    
Juvenile Survival: No data
Age at First Breeding: 3 years Typical Lifespan: 14 years
Maximum Recorded Age: 26 years 11 months 11 days (set in 2004)
Read a summary of Ringing Recoveries


Ring Size: J
Wing Length Adult: 411.2 ± 18.7 Range 385 - 438 mm, N =402
Juvenile: 396.8 ± 14.7 375 - 420 mm, N =23
Male: 421.1 ± 14.0 395 - 443 mm, N =215
Female: 399.9 ± 17.1 380 - 425 mm, N =184
Weight Adult: 1.83 ± 0.19 Range 1.53 - 2.15 kg , N =408
Juvenile: 1.70 ± 0.18 1.40 - 1.95 kg , N =24
Male: 1.93 ± 0.17 1.64 - 2.20 kg , N =222
Female: 1.72 ± 0.16 1.48 - 1.98 kg , N =184
British Trust for Ornithology (2005) Ringing Scheme data

Other Names

Gaelic: Cathan Welsh: Gwydd Wyran
Danish: Bramgås Dutch: Brandgans
Finnish: Valkoposkihanhi French: Bernache nonnette
German: Nonnengans Hungarian: Apácalúd
Icelandic: Helsingi Irish: Gé Ghiúrainn
Italian: Oca facciabianca Norwegian: Hvitkinngås
Polish: Bernikla bialolica Portuguese: Ganso-de-faces-brancas
Spanish: Barnacla cariblanca Swedish: Vitkindad gås

For More Information...

Books and Monographs:
   Hillcoat, B. et al. 1997 BWP Update 1:175-182
   Kear, J 2005 Ducks, geese and swans Oxford University Press [598.48 KEA]
See Also:
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Wikipedia entry
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BirdLife species page
Recent sightings and information from BirdGuides