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Barnacle Goose

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Latin: Branta leucopsis
Average length: M 27.0", F 23.5
Average weight: M 4.03 lbs., F 3.57 lbs.

Description: Barnacle geese have a black chest, neck and crown, with a cream-white face. The sexes are similar in appearance, but males typically are larger. The extension of black from the neck over the head gives the face a hooded appearance. The upper back is black, shading posterior to silver-gray. The breast, sides and flanks are a pale gray and the belly, undertail coverts and rump are white, contrasting markedly with the large black tail. The bill, legs and feet are black.


Breeding: Barnacle geese breed along the northeast coast of Greenland, Svalbard, Norway and Novaya Zemlya, and adjacent Vaygach Island, Russia. There are no breeding records of barnacle geese in North America. Barnacle geese nest in small colonies among rocky crags or on cliffs and islands and lay an average of 4-6 eggs.


Migrating and Wintering: The Greenland population of barnacle geese winter in Ireland and the Inner and Outer Hebrides of Scotland. The Svalbard population largely winters in the Solway Firth between England and Scotland. The Russian population winters in the Netherlands and Germany. In North America, infrequent appearances by barnacle geese have been restricted to the east, including Labrador, Ontario, Quebec, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Ohio and Michigan.


Food habits: Barnacle geese feed on grasses and coastal plants found in salt marshes, grasslands near river estuaries or tidal mud flats.


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