British Waterfowl Association

Barnacle Goose

Barnacle Geese nesting — Ian Gereg
portrait of a Barnacle goose
Barnacle Goose — Morag Jones
wild Barnacle Geese on Islay
Barnacle Geese on Islay — David Tomlinson

Branta leucopsis

Barnacle Geese, with their striking looks, are popular in wildfowl collections. They are distinguished by their white face, black head, neck and breast, together with pale belly. All geese need adequate grazing, but Barnacle Geese will adapt to smaller enclosures than some.

They are highly vocal, with a yapping note. Although easily tamed, they can be more liable to panic than most geese.

In the wild, Barnacle Geese are often very active at night, continuing to feed in the dark. Their habitat is tidal flats, coastal marshes and adjoining grazing areas. As a defence against predators, they frequently breed in colonies, selecting inaccessible slopes and cliff tops as their nesting ground. The resilience of a Barnacle Gosling is extraordinary.

This species is Amber-listed in Britain as 70–80% of our wintering population is found at 10 or fewer sites, so it is considered localised.

Barnacle Goose — Sue Chase

Barnacle Geese breed readily from their third year, laying clutches of 46 eggs with an incubation period of 25 days.