Barnacle goose

(Branta leucopsis)


Barnacle goose IUCN LEAST CONCERN (LC)


Facts about this animal

The barnacle goose is a small goose, about 63-71 cm long, with a body-weight of about 1.7 kg in males, and 1.5 kg in females. It is short-necked, and has a stubby black bill and black feet.

Except for the white or cream-coloured face with a black streak extending from bill to eye, the plumage of the head neckand brast is black. The upper parts and wings are bluish-grey barred with black, the lower parts whitish, and the tail is black with white coverts.

The Canada goose’s food consists predominantly of plant material and includes seagrasses, sedges and aquatic plants, but also grasses and winter-sown cereals such as wheat.

Breeding starts in late May or June and may be colonial. 4 to 6 white eggs are laid, which are incubated exclusively by the female for 24-25 days.

Barnacle geese are very vocal and make a "kaw" sound similar to the yap of a small dog.

Did you know?
that barnacle goslings have to make their way from precipitous sea cliffs to the safety of water below in the first few hours after hatching? Females have actually been reported to carry the young to safety on their back or in their bill.


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Branta leucopsis
Name (English) Barnacle goose
Name (French) Bernache nonnette
Name (German) Nonnengans, Weisswangengans
Name (Spanish) Barnacla cariblanca
Local names Estonian: Valgepõsk-lagle
Italian: Oca facciabianca
Rumansh: Auca da mungia
Swedish: Vitkindad gås
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



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Linnea Samila



Range Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, Spain, Svalbard and Jan Mayen, Sweden, United Kingdom. Vagrants may be encountered in many other European countries and in the United States.
Habitat Freshwater wetlands.
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 440,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 591 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Barnacle goose


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 17 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The barnacle goose is kept for educational reasons, often in mixed exhibits for northern Eurasian fauna together with ungulates, cranes and other waterfowl. Outside the breeding season it may be kept in walk-thru exhibits, allowing for close encounters with the public. It is this a good ambassador species for wetland conservation.