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Branta leucopsis

(Barnacle Goose)


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Common Names

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Click on the language to view common names.

Common Names in Afrikaans:


Common Names in Arabic:

إوز أبيض الرأس

Common Names in Basque:

Branta musuzuri

Common Names in Belarusian:

Белобуза гъска , Казарка белашчокая

Common Names in Breton:

Garreli dremm wenn

Common Names in Bulgarian:

Белобуза гъска

Common Names in Catalan, Valencian:

Oca de galta blanca

Common Names in Czech:

Berneška bělolící

Common Names in Danish:


Common Names in Dutch:


Common Names in English:

Barnacle Goose, bar goose

Common Names in Esperanto:

Blankvanga ansero

Common Names in Estonian:

Valgepõsk lagle, Valgepõsk-lagle

Common Names in Faroese:


Common Names in Finnish:


Common Names in French:

bernache nonnette

Common Names in Galician:

Ganso sangano

Common Names in German:

Nonnengans, Weisswangengans, Weißwangengans, Weißwangengans (Nonnengans)

Common Names in Hungarian:


Common Names in Icelandic:


Common Names in Irish:

Gé ghiúrainn

Common Names in Italian:

Oca facciabianca

Common Names in Japanese:


Common Names in Lithuanian:

Baltaskruostė berniklė

Common Names in Northern Sami:


Common Names in Norwegian:


Common Names in Norwegian Nynorsk:


Common Names in Polish:

Bernikla białolica

Common Names in Portuguese:

Ganso de faces brancas

Common Names in Russian:

Beloschokaya Kazarka, Белощекая казарка, Казарка белощекая

Common Names in Slovak:

Bernikla bielolíca

Common Names in Spanish:

Barnacla cariblanca

Common Names in Spanish, Castilian:

Barnacla Cariblanca

Common Names in Swedish:

Vitkindad gås

Common Names in Turkish:

Ak yanaklı kaz

Common Names in Urdu:


Common Names in Welsh:

Gŵydd Wyran


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Physical Description

Adult : Face : Chin: white Eyebrow Line : white Forehead: white Lores : black Facial Skin : blackish Bill: blackish Neck: black Body: Back: bluish gray with narrow black and white bars Belly: scalloped pale gray Breast: black Sides: scalloped pale gray Underparts: white Legs : Femorals: scalloped pale gray Leg Color: blackish Tail: black.


Typically found in a lake at a mean distance from sea level of 343.16 meters (1,125.85 feet).[1]

Ecology: Behaviour This species is fully migratory and travels on a narrow front2 between extremely localised breeding and wintering areas1. It is present on its breeding grounds from May or June to August or September2 where it breeds in small but often closely packed colonies1, 3 of 5-50 pairs, occasionally singly or in groups of up to 150 pairs6. It uses the same nesting sites year after year4 and sometimes nests among seabird colonies3. After the young hatch the adults undergo a flightless moult period near the breeding grounds between mid-July and mid-August that lasts for 3-4 weeks5. The species migrates to autumn staging areas in September2 from which it travels via regular stop-over sites3 to the wintering grounds, arriving in late-September2. The return migration begins in April or May, the species moving to spring staging areas where it may be present for 20-30 days before migrating northwards2. The species is highly gregarious outside of the breeding season , often feeding in dense concentrations on coastal grasslands during the winter3. In winter habitats it roosts on water3 or on sandbanks near saltmarshes and pastureland10. Habitat Breeding The species breeds in Arctic semi-desert tundra (fjellmark)2 on crags, rocky outcrops1, cliffs , rocky slopes4 and coastal islands (Svalbard)2 near wetlands such as lakes , rivers , marshes, the upper parts of fjords , coastlines4, wet meadows and mudflats2. In years when the snow is slow to melt the species first forages on grassy vegetation on south-facing mountain slopes fertilised by the droppings of cliff-nesting seabirds before moving down to breeding areas2. It also returns to these slopes after the moulting period before autumn migration2. After the young hatch families may disperse away from rocky ground to more vegetated areas surrounding tundra lakes and rivers2. Non-breeding During the non-breeding season the species frequents tidal mudflats , saltmarshes2, 4 and adjacent coastal meadows1, 4 (especially improvedrough pasturesand arable land1, 2), with agricultural fields becoming increasingly more important as winter feeding areas5. Diet The species is herbivorous1 its diet consisting of the leaves, stems and seed-heads of grasses, sedges, aquatic plants1, 2, mosses2, various herbs (especially white clover Trifolium repens in the winter)8, 10 and shrubs (e.g. arctic willow Salix arctica)4. It may also take agricultural grain and vegetables during the winter1. Breeding site The nest is a shallow depression in a low mound of vegetation6 positioned on rocky ground1, 2, rocky outcrops4, 6, among rocky crags, on steep cliffs3, 4, 6, on the tops of low hills4, or on low vegetation hummocks and snow-free patches on islands in river channels6. Nesting sites accumulate nesting materials as they are often used year after year4, and the species may sometimes nest among seabird colonies3. Management information An investigation carried out in one of the species's wintering areas (UK) found that it was most likely to forage on improved grasslands with high abundances of the grass Lolium perenne and white clover Trifolium repens8 (the growth of which is greatly influenced by the amount of summer grazing, which controls the grass height)10. Preferred fields were between 4 and 10 ha in area (the species avoided fields of less than 2-3 ha), and at an optimal distance of less than 5 km away from roosting sites (maximum 7 km away)8. The species was also found to show a preference for grasslands with swards less than 10 cm in height (optimum 2 cm) in fields that had been cut for silage and then grazed (although there was no major difference in feeding intensity on pastures grazed with different livestock)8. Overall winter use of grassland fertilised with large amounts of nitrogen was significantly greater than the use of unfertilised grassland by the species8. The Barnacle Goose Management Scheme (BGMS) in Scotland, UK recommends fertilising farmland adjacent to reserves containing wintering groups of this species at times when geese are present (e.g. autumn or winter) and grazing stock (sheep or cattle) are absent9. The BGMS also awards payments to farmers who manage pastures outside of established reserves for reducing the level of disturbance (e.g. scaring away feeding flocks) on their land9[2].

List of Habitats:

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Branta leucopsis (Bechstein, 1803)

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Branta

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 28 species and subspecies in this genus:

B. bernicla (Brant Goose) · B. bernicla bernicla (Brant (Dark-Bellied)) · B. bernicla hrota (Brant (Atlantic)) · B. bernicla nigricans (Brant (Black)) · B. bernicla orientalis (Black Brent Goose ) · B. canadensis (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis canadensis (Canada Goose (Canadensis/interior)) · B. canadensis fulva (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis hutchinsii (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis interior (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis leucopareia (Aleutian Canada Goose) · B. canadensis maxima (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis maxima or interior (Canada Goose) · B. canadensis minima (Cackling Canada Goose) · B. canadensis moffitti (Canada Goose (Moffitti/maxima)) · B. canadensis occidentalis (Canada Goose (Occidentalis/fulva)) · B. canadensis parvipes (Canada Goose (Parvipes)) · B. canadensis taverneri (Canada Goose) · B. hrota (Pale Bellied Brent Goose) · B. hutchinsii (Cackling Goose) · B. hutchinsii hutchinsii (Cackling Goose (Richardson's)) · B. hutchinsii leucopareia (Aleutian Cackling Goose) · B. hutchinsii minima (Small Cackling Goose) · B. hutchinsii taverneri (Tavrner's Cackling Goose) · B. leucopsis (Barnacle Goose) · B. nigricans (Black Brant) · B. ruficollis (Red-Breasted Goose) · B. sandvicensis (Hawaiian Goose)

More Info

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Further Reading

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Data Sources

Accessed through GBIF Data Portal November 12, 2007:



  1. Standard Deviation = 184.500 based on 313 observations. Altitude information for each observation from British Oceanographic Data Centre. [back]
  2. BirdLife International 2009. Branta leucopsis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <>. Downloaded on 30 January 2012. [back]
Last Revised: 2015-02-06