Brant (Brent) Goose

Brant Goose​​​The brant or brent goose (Branta bernicla) is a species of goose of the genus Branta. The black brant is an American subspecies. The specific descriptor bernicla is from the same source as "barnacle" in barnacle goose, which is similar in appearance. The Brent System, a major oilfield, was named after the species.[6]

The brant goose is a small goose with a short, stubby bill. It measures 55–66 cm (22–26 in) long, 106–121 cm (42–48 in) across the wings and weighs 0.88–2.2 kg (1.9–4.9 lb).[3][4][5] The under-tail is pure white, and the tail black and very short (the shortest of any goose).[6]
 

The species is divided three subspecies:
Dark-bellied brant goose B. b. bernicla (Linnaeus, 1758)
Pale-bellied brant goose B. b. hrota (Müller, 1776) (sometimes also known as light-bellied brant goose in Europe, and Atlantic brant in North America)
Black brant B. b. nigricans (Lawrence, 1846) (sometimes also known as the Pacific brant in North America) [6]

Some DNA evidence suggests that these forms are genetically distinct; while a split into three separate species has been proposed, it is not widely accepted, with other evidence upholding their maintenance as a single species.
The body of the dark-bellied form is fairly uniformly dark grey-brown all over, the flanks and belly not significantly paler than the back. The head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck. It breeds on the Arctic coasts of central and western Siberia and winters in western Europe, with over half the population in southern England, the rest between northern Germany and northern France.[6]
The pale-bellied brant goose appears blackish-brown and light grey in colour. The body is different shades of grey-brown all over, the flanks and belly are significantly paler than the back and present a marked contrast. The head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck. It breeds in Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Greenland and northeastern Canada, wintering in Denmark, northeast England, Ireland and the Atlantic coast of the U.S. from Maine to Georgia.[6]
The black brant appears blackish-brown and white in colour. This form is a very contrastingly black and white bird, with a uniformly dark sooty-brown back, similarly-coloured underparts (with the dark colour extending furthest back of the three forms) and a prominent white flank patch; it also has larger white neck patches, forming a near-complete collar. It breeds in northwestern Canada, Alaskaand eastern Siberia, and wintering mostly on the west coast of North America from southern Alaska to California, but also some in east Asia, mainly Japan.[6]
The Asian populations of the black brant populations had previous been regarded as a separate subspecies orientalis based on purported paler upperparts coloration; however, it is generally now believed that this is not correct.[6]
 

A fourth form (known variously as gray brant, intermediate brant or grey-bellied brant goose) has been proposed, although no formal subspecies description has been made as yet, for a population of birds breeding in central Arctic Canada (mainly Melville Island), and wintering on Puget Sound on the American west coast around the U.S./Canada border. These birds are intermediate in appearance between black brant and pale-bellied brant, having brown upperparts and grey underparts which give less of a contrast with the white flank patch. Given that this population exhibits mixed characters, it has also been proposed that, rather than being a separate subspecies, it is actually a result of interbreeding between these two forms.[6]

 

Cackling Goose

Cackling GooseThe cackling goose (Branta hutchinsii) is a North American bird of the genus Branta of black geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey Anserspecies.[4]

The black head and neck with white "chinstrap" distinguish this goose from all except the larger Canada goose (Branta canadensis) and the similarly sized barnacle goose (B. leucopsis). There are up to 5 subspecies of cackling goose, of varying sizes and plumage details. [4]
 
The female looks virtually identical but is slightly lighter and has a different voice. Some are hard to distinguish from the Canada goose, with which the cackling goose was long assumed to form one species, the cackling goose and the smaller Canada goose subspecies being called the lesser Canada goose. The smallest 1.4 kg (3.1 lb) Cackling geese (B. h. minima) are much smaller than any Canada goose, but the subspecies B. h. hutchinsii, at up to 3 kg (6.6 lb), grows to the same size as some Canada geese.[4]
This species is native to North America. It breeds in northern Canada and Alaska in a variety of tundra habitats. However, the nest is usually located in an elevated area near water. The eggs are laid in a shallow depression lined with plant material and down. Males can be very aggressive in defending territory. A pair may mate for life (up to around 20 years). Adult geese are often seen leading their goslings in a line with one parent at the front, and the other at the back of the "parade".[4]
Like most geese, it is naturally migratory, the wintering range being most of the U.S., and locally in western Canada and northern Mexico. The calls overhead from large groups of cackling geese flying in V-shaped formation signal the transitions into spring and fall. In some areas, migration routes have changed due to changes in habitat and food sources.[4]
 

Canada Goose

​​Canada GooseThe Canada goose (Branta canadensis) is a large wild goose species with a black head and neck, white patches on the face, and a brown body.[5]

Native to arctic and temperate regions of North America, its migration occasionally reaches northern Europe. It has been introduced to the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands.[2] Like most geese, the Canada goose is primarily herbivorous and normally migratory; it tends to be found on or close to fresh water.

Extremely successful at living in human-altered areas, Canada geese have proven able to establish breeding colonies in urban and cultivated areas, which provide food and few natural predators, and are well known as a common park species.[5]

Their success has led to them often being considered a pest species because of their depredation of crops and issues with their noise, droppings, aggressive territorial behavior, and habit of begging for food, especially in their introduced range. Canada geese are also among the most commonly hunted waterfowl in North America. [5]

The black head and neck with a white "chinstrap" distinguish the Canada goose from all other goose species, with the exception of the cackling goose andbarnacle goose (the latter, however, has a black breast and gray rather than brownish body plumage).[5]

Ross's Goose

​​Snow Goose​​​The snow goose (Chen caerulescens), also known as the blue goose.

This goose breeds north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, 

Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and spends winters in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico. They fly as far south as Texas and Mexico during winter, and return to nest on the Arctic tundra each spring. [2]

​​​The breeding population of the lesser snow goose exceeds 5 million birds, an increase of more than 300% since the mid-1970s. The population is increasing at a rate of more than 5% per year. Non-breeding geese (juveniles or adults that fail to nest successfully) are not included in this estimate, so the total number of geese is even higher. Lesser snow goose population indices are the highest they have been since population records have been kept, and evidence suggests that large breeding populations are spreading to previously untouched sections of the Hudson Bay coastline.​ [2] 

 

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