- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The Barnacle Goose stands out in a crowd, combining black, white, and silver to create a unique, attractive look. This small, stub-billed goose numbered only 20,000 individuals in the 1950s, but now huge, noisy flocks feed voraciously in pastures and meadows in northern Europe during migration and the winter. Some Barnacle Geese migrate to Arctic regions—Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, and northwestern Russia—to breed, while others have taken up permanent residence in the North Sea and Baltic Sea.More ID Info
- Barnacla Cariblanca (Spanish)
- Bernache nonnette (French)
- Cool Facts
- Barnacle Geese don’t actually eat barnacles. Their name comes from an erroneous medieval notion that these geese hatched from barnacles each autumn.
- Barnacle Geese eat a lot of grass, and it passes through their system quickly. A study in the Netherlands found that wintering Barnacle Geese typically defecated 160 times a day.
- Arctic-nesting Barnacle Geese introduce their chicks to extreme adventure at an early age. Goslings hatch in high cliff nests, almost immediately jump into the ocean, and swim ashore. They then follow their parents on a 10–25 km (6–15 mile) hike to reach a safe place to grow up. These dramatic departures from breeding colonies presumably reduce the risk of predation from polar bears, Arctic foxes, skuas, and large gulls.
- Barnacle Goose sightings in eastern North America—usually along the Atlantic Coast from Newfoundland to Virginia—have been on the rise in the 21st century. These sightings are usually of single individuals mixed into Canada Goose flocks during migration or winter.
- The oldest known wild Barnacle Goose lived 27 years.