Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Brent Goose (Branta bernicla)


French: Bernache cravant German: Ringelgans Spanish: Barnacla carinegra
Other common names: Brant, Light-bellied Brent, Atlantic Brent, American Brant (hrota), Russian Brent (bernicla), Pacific Brant (orientalis), Black Brant (nigricans)

Anas Bernicla


, 1758,



Race orientalis sometimes included in nigricans#R. Race nigricans (with orientalis) sometimes considered a full species, differing from other forms mainly in colour of underparts and size of neck-flash; both characters, however, are somewhat variable within the species, and boundaries between forms produce numerous intergrades and hybrids. Has apparently hybridized in the wild also with B. ruficollis#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. b. hrota (O. F. Müller, 1776) – Pale-bellied Brent Goose – N Canada, Greenland, Svalbard (Spitsbergen) and Franz Josef Land; winters in E USA and Ireland.
  • B. b. bernicla (Linnaeus, 1758) – Dark-bellied Brent Goose – NC Siberia; winters in W Europe.
  • B. b. orientalis Tugarinov, 1941 – NE Siberia; winters presumably along Pacific coast.
  • B. b. nigricans (Lawrence, 1846) – Black-bellied Brent Goose – extreme NE Siberia to NC Canada; winters along Pacific coast of North America to Mexico, also E China and Japan.
  • Descriptive notes

    55–66 cm; male 910–1810 g, female 850–1770 g; wingspan 110–125 cm. Unmistakable. Underparts vary from nearly black to very pale grey, and white... read more


    Often silent. Most characteristic is hard, rolling “raunk, raunk” or softer “ronk”, uttered in... read more


    Breeds in lowland Arctic tundra or wet coastal meadows, generally near coast (but up to 10 km... read more

    Food and feeding

    Essentially vegetarian; grasses, mosses, lichens and aquatic plants on breeding grounds; in winter, almost exclusively marine algae,... read more


    Generally starts in Jun, between 6–12 days of arrival on breeding grounds, but considerable variation as follows: in W Siberia (77... read more


    Long-distance migrant, with main wintering areas in NW Europe, E Asia (Yellow Sea) and Atlantic and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total world population of 400,000–500,000 birds during 1980s, with 170,000 B. b. bernicla wintering in W Europe (90,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Brent Goose (Branta bernicla). 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 29 February 2020).