Red-Breasted Goose

ANIMAL:
Red-Breasted Goose        Branta ruficollis

Type of Animal:
Goose

Habitat:
Tundra, shrub tundra, steep riverbanks, rocky slopes, rocky crags, gullies, steppes, agricultural areas, lakes, wetlands, grassland, sandy beaches

Location(s):
Breeds in arctic Europe, N. Russia, & Siberia, winters along Black Sea, Caspian Sea, E. Mediterranean, & N. Arabian Gulf in Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, & Greece. Occasionally found in W. Europe.

Appearance:
Black & white w/ conspicuous red breast & black mask. Broad white stripe on flank.

Food/Diet:
Leaves, shoots, grass, stems, aquatic plants, tubers, wheat, barley, maize, other grains, herbs

Status in Wild:
Threatened

Conservation:
Breeding from zoos, aviculture, breeding centers, & wildlife parks

Lifestyle:
Often found in flocks of 14-50 birds, sometimes 100 birds. During breeding/nesting season, they break off into smaller colonies of several monogamous pairs.

Additional Info:

Called:
Male-Gander
Female-Goose
Young-Gosling
Group-Flock/Gaggle

Weight:
Male-3-3.5 lbs
Female-2.43-2.65 lbs

Gestation: 
25 days

Height:
Male-1.83 ft
Female-1.75 ft

Body Length:
Male-1.83 ft
Female-1.75 ft

Life Span: 
15 years in wild, 25 years in captivity

Tail Length:
0.996 in

Main predators are foxes, large owls, hawks, eagles, & gyrfalcons. Gulls prey on goslings. Interestingly, sometimes raptors indirectly protect goose nests by driving out competing raptor species, foxes, & gulls (both of which raptors eat). This leads to geese nesting near but not too close to raptors. However, sometimes foxes eat raptors excluding eagles. Red-Breasted Geese often nest close to Peregrine Falcons (which don’t prey on geese but eat gulls) for protection. Peregrines also drive away foxes.

Threatened due to water/air pollution, oil exploration, habitat loss, collisions w/ human infrastructure, tourism, urban sprawl, agricultural development, persecution as crop pests, use of pesticides, & hunting for meat/sport.

These geese are rather shy in the wild, avoiding people.

Females lay 3-10 eggs each season.

Smallest of the European geese.

While both parents take care of goslings, female does all incubation.

While threatened, populations have been increasing in many areas.

Most terrestrial of northern geese.

Fun Fact(s):
It is rather common in captive wildfowl collections.

The famous Ancient Egyptian Meidum Geese painting found in 1871 by Auguste Mariette & Luigi Vassalli at Nefermaat’s tomb may depict this species, which may have rarely migrated to Egypt. Painting can be seen at Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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