Saturday, May 12, 2012

Branta bernicla

Most of us are familiar with the ubiquitous Canada goose but this is another species we find in New England for at least part of the year.  The Brant's (or Brent) goose is, like most New England avian reptiles, migratory between the Arctic where it summers and breeds and the North American coast.  During its stay here it inhabits inter-tidal regions of either sandy shore or marsh flats.  This bird is not entirely marine, however, and spends its summers in the tundra or on grassy islands where its diet consists primarily of lichen and terrestrial plants.

The Brant's goose is primarily herbivorous but will take some animal food as well especially eggs but also worms, snails and amphipods.  (What are amphipods?  The next time you're at the beach find the wrack-line, the line of seaweeds and marine detritus left at the high-tide line, and turn some of it over.  You'll likely see little pale crustaceans start crawling and flipping themselves around.  Those are amphipods.)  Because breeding takes place near freshwater the young Brant's also will feed on insects and aquatic inverts.

There are several subspecies with varying color patterns across the range of the Brant's goose.  As a species it is considered an IUCN species of least concern.

As usual, I reference