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Barnacle goose


58-70 centimeters; 132-145 centimeters wingspan

color (adults):

yellowish white face, black neck and back of head, white belly, silver-grey wings and back with black and white bars.


grass, twigs and seeds, sometimes molluscs and shellfish


arctic fox, polar bears in nesting areas up north

Dutch status:

nesting bird since 1980; primarily migratory and winter guest


nests on high cliffs close to wetlands formally only in Arctic regions
In the Netherlands: in open, bare grasslands or reed fields


3-7 eggs

life span:

12 years (maximum known age: ~27 years)

  • Dut: Brandgans
  • Eng: Barnacle Goose
  • Fren: Bernache nonnette
  • Ger: Weisswangengans (Nonnengans)
  • Dan: Bramgis
  • Nor: Hvitkinngis
  • Frisian: Paugoes
  • Ital: Oca facciabianca
  • Lat: Branta leucopsis
Barnacle goose, Jeroen Reneerkens (

Barnacle goose

These robust geese brood in barren areas in the high north. Barnacle geese lay their eggs on ridges located high off the ground, unreachable for predators. Because the chicks are unable to fly right away, they need to eventually jump off the cliffs. It is a rocky bottom and not all chicks survive the ordeal. Since the end of the 20th century, more and more barnacle geese have been staying in the Netherlands to nest. This probably began with tame birds that went wild.

On Texel

Barnacle geese have been nesting successfully on Texel since the start of this century. In 2010, there were already 58 pairs. There are more barnacle geese on Texel during the winter, usually several hundred. But compared to other Wadden Islands, it isn't very much.

  • Distribution and habitat
    Barnacle geese, foto fitis, adriaan dijksen

    Barnacle geese breed in colonies on Spitsbergen, Nova Zembla, Greenland and on the island of Vaygach. They overwinter in Western Europe. Between October and March, there can be as many as 490,000 specimen found in the Netherlands, specifically in the north of Groningen, Friesland, Flevoland and the delta region. In the 1980s, the first nesting colonies appeared in the Netherlands and there are now thousands nesting in Zeeland and the wadden region.

  • Protection
    • Monitoring: Network Ecological Monitoring
    • Policy: Target Species List
    • National legislation: Flora and Fauna Regulation
    • European Agreement: Bird Directive
    • International: Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA), Bern Convention, Bonn Convention
  • Did you know that...

    ... the barnacle goose got its name from the belief that this bird started life as a goose barnacle?