British Waterfowl Association

Brant Goose

3 Brent geese
Dark-bellied Brent Geese, juvenile and adult - Clayton Botkin

There are four subspecies of Brant Goose or Brent Goose recognised:

  • B. b. bernicla – Dark-bellied Brant of northern and central Siberia
  • B. b. hrota – Pale-bellied Brant of Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and Franz Josef Land
  • B. b. nigricans – Black-bellied Brant of extreme north-east Siberia to north central Canada
  • B. b. orientalis – of north-east Siberia
2 dark-bellied Brent eating an apple
Dark-bellied Brant - Morag Jones

Branta bernicla

The most northerly breeding goose, four subspecies of Brent Geese are recognised. Though separated geographically in the wild, they can readily interbreed. They are also able to breed with the Red-breasted Goose, occasionally documented in the wild, so care should be taken with inappropriate liaisons in mixed collections.  This may be more of a problem if goslings are hand reared without siblings.

This is a small dainty goose, little bigger than a Mallard. In winter, the dark-bellied species which breed in northern Russia are seen in southern and eastern England. Pale-bellied, breeding in Canada and Greenland are more likely seen in Ireland or Lindisfarne in Northumberland.

Among the dark-bellied subspecies, the Pacific is the most commonly kept, with smaller numbers of Russian Dark-bellied. Great care should be taken with the provenance of breeding stock to ensure which subspecies is being kept.

Brant Geese, Atlantic on the left and Pacific on the right - Ian Gereg
3 Russian Bfrent geese swimming
Russian Dark-bellied Brant - Ian Gereg

3-5 white eggs are laid and incubated by the goose for 23-24 days. The gander guards the nest with great enthusiasm. Approach at your peril: your usually mild-mannered bird will launch like a missile at your legs and seize a lump of skin and twist. Further bruises are gifted from the beating of wings.

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