Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Greylag Goose (Anser anser)


Taxonomy

French: Oie cendrée German: Graugans Spanish: Ánsar común
Taxonomy:

Anas Anser

Linnaeus

, 1758,

Europe and northern North America

.

Subspecies rubrirostris is moderately distinctive, with overall paler plumage and all-pink vs orange bill and eyering; races intergrade in E Europe/W Russia. Has hybridized with many anseriform species, including congeners, Branta leucopsis, Branta canadensis and, rarely, Cygnus olor#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. anser (Linnaeus, 1758) – Western Greylag Goose – Iceland, and N & C Europe; winters from Scotland S to N Africa and E to Iran.
  • A. a. rubrirostris Swinhoe, 1871 – Eastern Greylag Goose – from Romania, Turkey and Russia E to NE China; winters mainly from Asia Minor to E China.
  • Captive and feral populations widespread in much of Europe. Introduced (nominate anser) to New Zealand.

    Descriptive notes

    76–89 cm; nominate male 2600–4560 g, female 2070–3960 g; rubrirostris male 2800–4100 g, female 2450–3600 g; wingspan 147–180 cm.... read more

    Voice

    Loud nasal honking, deeper, more cackling and more raucous than other grey geese and rather similar... read more

    Habitat

    Variety of habitats generally associated with water in open country, often with fringe vegetation... read more

    Food and feeding

    Essentially vegetarian; grass, roots, leaves, stems, seed heads, fruits and sprouts of wide variety of plants, complemented in winter with... read more

    Breeding

    Starts Mar/Apr, in continental Europe and Iceland (nominate) egg-laying starts late Apr, peaking mid May, whereas in UK first eggs late Mar... read more

    Movements

    A few populations sedentary (e.g. in N Scotland) but most birds move southwards to winter in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant, especially in W Europe, where increasing, with several hundred thousand birds, including an estimated 300,000 feral... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Kirwan, G.M. & Garcia, E.F.J. (2017). Greylag Goose (Anser anser). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/52815 on 23 August 2017).