Barnacle Goose

About the Barnacle Goose


Barnacle geese breed along the northeast coast of Greenland, Svalbard, Norway, 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.

Latin: Branta leucopsis

Average length: M 27.0", F 23.5

Average weight: M 4.03 lbs., F 3.57 lbs.


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.

Food habits

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


The mallard is the most common duck in the United States, with the greatest abundance between the Appalachian and Rocky mountains. Mallard populations have benefited greatly from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and other grassland restoration efforts in the northern Prairies of the United States, where populations have continued to increase.

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.

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