Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)


French: Bernache nonnette German: Weißwangengans Spanish: Barnacla cariblanca

Anas leucopsis


, 1803,



Has hybridized in the wild with several other geese, including B. bernicla#R and Anser rossii#R. Monotypic.


E Greenland, Svalbard (Spitsbergen), Novaya Zemlya and scattered locations in NW Siberia, Scandinavia and Baltic area; recorded as breeding in Franz Josef Land#R. Winters in N Britain and along North Sea coasts.

Small feral population in S Britain.

Descriptive notes

58–71 cm; 1290–2400 g but male mainly 1500–2200 g, female 1300–1900 g; wingspan 132–145 cm. Unmistakable, with black neck, breast, primaries and... read more


Gives short, sharp barking notes, both on ground and in flight, not unlike the yapping of a small... read more


Breeds on crags and rocky outcrops in Arctic tundra, preferably near waterbodies and rivers, and... read more

Food and feeding

Essentially vegetarian; leaves, stems and seed heads of grasses, sedges and aquatic plants; in winter also grain and some vegetables. In... read more


Starts late May/Jun, with laying dates on Vaygach I (Russia) in 1980s being 5–20 Jun, and departure from breeding grounds in late Aug... read more


Migratory, departs breeding grounds (mainly late Aug/Sept) to winter mainly in Britain (Scotland... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Has extremely localized breeding and wintering grounds, but species is currently undergoing rapid expansion. Total world population... read more

Recommended citation

Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis). 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 on 16 December 2019).