Branta bernicla

An abundant small goose of the ocean shores, the Brant breeds in the high Arctic tundra and winters along both coasts. The Brant along the Atlantic have light gray bellies, while those off the Pacific Coast have black bellies and were at one time considered a separate species.

Interesting Information

  • A group of geese has many collective nouns, including a "blizzard", "chevron", "knot", "plump", and "string" of geese.

  • The Brant is also known as the Brent Goose. The spelling "Brant" is the original one, with "Brent" being a later folk-etymological idea that it was derived from a classical Greek water bird name brenthos. It actually came from the guttural call note of the species.

  • They have the shortest tail of any goose.

  • They possess a highly developed salt gland that allows them to drink salt water.


Adult Description

  • Medium to small goose.

  • Black head, neck, and chest.

  • White, partly broken collar.

  • Length Range: 66-71 cm (26-28 in)

  • Weight: 1400 g (49.3 oz)

  • Size: Large (16 - 32 in)

  • Color Primary: White, Black, Gray

  • Underparts: Gray

  • Upperparts: Gray and white.

  • Back Pattern: Solid

  • Belly Pattern: Solid

  • Breast Pattern: Solid

Sex Differences

Sexes similar.


Similar to adult, but without white collar and with white scaling on back.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Predominantly coastal, inhabiting estuaries, tidal mudlflats, sandy shores, coastal saltmarshes (especially in the spring) and shallow muddy bays


Gleans grain from fields, grazes on grass, forages in shallow water by tipping-up.


Grasses, algae, mosses, other plants. Also eats marine invertebrates



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
    Subfamily: Anserinae
Genus: Branta
Species: Branta bernicla
    Subspecies: Branta bernicla bernicla
  Branta bernicla hrota
  Branta bernicla nigricans

Similar Species

Canada Goose has large white cheek patch and pale or brown breast.

Bird Sound

A soft, throaty rolling "cr-r-r-rk."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution



Up close and personal