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Barnacle goose

Barnacle Goose

Iconic Arctic goose whose chicks must face the ultimate "leap of faith"!

What you need to know about the Barnacle Goose

Our Expert Says… "Barnacle geese can live for over 30 years in the wild, and they pair up for life. The Svalbard population was almost wiped out by hunting before being protected and has now recovered from only 250 birds in 1943 to over 33,000 today."

The barnacle goose is a medium-sized Arctic breeding species that is mainly found in eastern Greenland, Svalbard, the Baltic Sea, and the Barents Sea in summer. They are called barnacle geese not because of their resemblance to barnacles, but because legend had it that the geese used to spawn out of goose barnacles that grow on rocks around the coasts!

Barnacle geese grow up to around 70cm (28”) in length and with a 1.4m (55”) wingspan. They have black heads with white faces, black necks, and black breasts. Their wings are grey with black-and-white bars and their bellies are white.

Barnacle geese are preyed on by Arctic foxes and polar bears, so they tend to nest high on cliffs in mountainous areas. Because Barnacle geese don’t feed their chicks, they must make their way to the feeding areas near to water. Because they can’t fly, the chicks are encouraged to leap from the nest, tumbling down the cliff faces to the ground below. Although the chicks are very light and covered in a thick, cushioned down, it’s estimated that fewer than 50% survive their first month. Arctic foxes, in particular, will pick off any chicks that survive but are injured, attracted by the calls of the parent geese encouraging the goslings to jump.

The total population of barnacle geese is estimated to be around 220,000 and stable or rising in some areas.

Barnacle Goose: Pictures & Videos

Barnacle goose

Spots where the Barnacle Goose can be observed

Our trips to spot the Barnacle Goose

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