Branta bernicla
A Brant specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Much smaller (22-26 inches) than most Canada Geese (Branta canadensis), the Brant’s gray back also makes it much darker than its larger relative. Whereas Canada Geese have a large white “chinstrap,” the Brant has a much smaller white patch on its black neck. This species may also be identified by its black chest, white breast, and light gray flanks. The Brant is widely distributed across the Northern Hemisphere. In North America, this species’ breeding range is restricted to coastal areas in northern Alaska, Greenland, and arctic Canada. Most Brant breeding in North America winter along the Pacific coast of the United States or in the Mid-Atlantic region, while those that breed in northeastern Canada and Greenland winter in Europe. In the Old World, Brant breed in Siberia and winter to Western Europe and East Asia. In summer, Brant breed near salt marshes, in river deltas, or on small islands near shore. During the winter, this species inhabits estuaries, mudflats, and protected bays. Brant primarily eat mosses and small non-woody plants on their breeding grounds; during the winter, this species subsists almost exclusively on eelgrass, a type of submerged seagrass. Due to the inaccessibility of their breeding grounds, most birdwatchers never observe Brant during the summer months. They are much more accessible in winter and during migration, when they may be found singly or in flocks on large coastal bodies of water. This species is primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant and wintering bird from October to April. Occurs in shallow salt water along the border of the Chesapeake Bay and at barrier beaches. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

Date: 12/16/1858
Collected By: C Drexler
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex: Not known
Catalog ID: 12786

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalization

Sound from xeno-canto. XC37495 Branta bernicla (Brant Goose)