Brent goose

(Branta bernicla)




Facts about this animal

The brent goose is a small goose, about 60-64 cm long, with a body-weight of about only 1.4 to 1.5 kg in males, and 1.2 to 1.4 kg in females. It has a short stubby bill, rather long and pointed wings, and very short tail.

The plumage of the head neck and breast is black with a small whitish patch on either side of the neck. Extensive white uppertail coverts almost conceal the black tail. Upper parts and wings are blackish or dark grey, the colour of the under parts varies according to subspecies, the lower belly and vent are white.

3 to 5 white eggs are laid in a nest heavily lined with thick down, which are incubated exclusively by the female for 22-26 days.


The brent goose’s food consists of plant material of the tidal zone, such as eel grass, seaweed and sea lettuce, but also grasses and winter-sown cerals such as wheat.

Did you know?
That this goose is able to achieve remarkable speeds of up to 99 kilometres per hour?


Class AVES
Suborder ANSERES
Name (Scientific) Branta bernicla
Name (English) Brent goose
Name (French) Bernache cravant
Name (German) Ringelgans
Name (Spanish) Barnacla carinegra
Local names Czech: Berneska tmavá
Dutch: Rotgans
Estonian: Mustlagle
Finnish: Serpelhanhi
Hungarian: Örvös lúd
Italian: Oca colombaccio
Polish: Bernikla obrozna
Portugiese: Ganso-de-faces-negras
Romansh: Auca da cularin
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Appendix II (as Anatidae spp.) Included in AEWA



Photo Copyright by
Andreas Trepte



Range Branta b. bernicla: Breeding range is N Europe and Asia, winters along the coasts of NW Europe and England. Branta b. hrota: Breeding range is along the coast and islands of eastern arctic Canada, N Greenland and Spitsbergen, winters on Iceland and along the Atlantic coast of North America. Branta b. orientalis: Breeding range is W Arctic Canada, Alaska and E Siberia, winters along the Pacific coast of North America, in Japan, N China and the Koreas. Branta b. nigricans: Breeding range is the extreme NE Siberia to NC Canada
Habitat Marine, feshwater wetlands, pastures
Wild population The global population is estimated to be 570,000 individuals by Wetlands International (2002).
Zoo population 48 reported to ISIS (2006)

In the Zoo

Brent 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


Photo Copyright by
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Why do zoos keep this animal

The brent 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.