Red-breasted Goose

Branta ruficollis

The picture shows a red-breasted goose flapping its wings out of the water. IUCN Red List endangerment category: Least concern
  • Family
    Anatidae (Ducks, geese and swans)
  • Weight
    1.150 – 1.600 g
  • Habitat
    Shrub tundra, river valleys and coastal areas

Protection measures

The red-breasted goose breeds in small loose colonies on the slopes of river valleys. They often nest close to the nests of birds of prey such as peregrine falcons or rough-legged buzzards to protect themselves against predators such as the Arctic fox. Red-breasted geese build their nest in shallow depressions in the ground, lining it with down, grasses, and mosses.

Foraging on land

Unlike most other species of geese, the red-breasted goose readily grazes for food on land, feeding on a diet of grasses and seeds. It does not dabble in the water. During winter, their diet comprises short pasture grasses near the coast and glasswort (salt-tolerant marsh plant). In summer, cotton grasses are the number one item on the menu. 

The hunting of these birds in their original wintering grounds in Romania and the Ukraine has led to the shrinking of this habitat and a move towards the Black Sea.