Male Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Goose

Scientific name: Branta leucopsis

Did you know: Barnacle Geese were once thought to be born from goose barnacles due to their similar black-and-white markings!

What Do Barnacle Geese Look Like? (how to identify them)

Barnacle Geese are notable for their elegant appearance, characterised by their contrasting black and white plumage and a distinctly white face. 

These medium-sized geese typically measure between 58 to 70 cm in length, with a wingspan of 132 to 145 cm, making them one of the UK’s smaller goose species. 

Their black heads, necks, and breasts sharply contrast with their white bellies and blue-grey barred backs, creating a striking visual.

Differences Between Male And Female Barnacle Geese

Male and female Barnacle Geese are similar in appearance, making it challenging to distinguish between the two based solely on plumage. Both genders share the same colouration and markings, including the distinctive creamy-white face.

What Do Barnacle Geese Eat?

Barnacle Geese primarily feed on vegetation. Their diet includes the leaves and stems of grasses, as well as roots and seeds, which they forage from their surrounding habitats. 

This vegetarian diet is vital for sustaining them throughout their various life stages.

Where Do Barnacle Geese Live? (inc. migration info)

Barnacle Geese breed in Arctic regions such as Greenland, Svalbard, and parts of the Russian Arctic, and migrate to the UK for the winter. 

These birds have adapted to a life on the move, showcasing remarkable migratory patterns. For instance, the population that breeds in eastern Greenland spends the winter in the Hebrides of western Scotland and western Ireland, showcasing their ability to traverse vast distances seasonally.

Bird Calls & Songs (the unique voices of Barnacle Geese)

The vocalisations of Barnacle Geese are as distinctive as their appearance. Often heard before they are seen, these geese emit a series of loud, barking calls that resonate across their habitats. 

These calls play a crucial role in communication during their long migratory flights and help maintain group cohesion.

Fun Barnacle Goose Facts (kid-friendly)

  • Historically, people believed Barnacle Geese grew from barnacles on ships, due to their mysterious breeding grounds.
  • Goslings jump from high cliffs shortly after hatching, guided safely by their parents – a daring start to life!
  • These geese travel thousands of miles each year, from Arctic breeding grounds to milder UK winters.
  • Barnacle Geese are very sociable, often seen flying in large, noisy flocks.
  • Despite their small size, they are equipped with a thick layer of insulating feathers to survive freezing temperatures.
  • Once only numbering in the thousands, concerted conservation efforts have helped their population soar to over a million.

Barnacle Goose Video

Facts About The Barnacle Goose

Diet: Their diet consists of vegetation - the leaves & stems of grasses, roots and seeds.
Bird Family: Ducks, geese and swans
Length: 57 - 71cm
Wingspan: 131 - 146cm
Weight: 1.2 - 2.2kg
Scientific Name: Branta leucopsis

The Barnacle Goose Can Be Seen In The UK During The Following Months

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • October
  • November
  • December

Barnacle Goose Images

Male Barnacle Goose Male
Female Barnacle Goose Female
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Hatchling
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Nestling
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Chick
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Fledgling
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Juvenile