Black Brant Goose

There are several species of Brant Geese which are sometimes known as Brent Geese.  They are not much bigger than Mallard Ducks. The eastern species is called the American Brant Goose. Black Brant Goose|Morro Bay, CA   The American Brant has a pale belly, a black chest, with a white neck band.  This white neck band does not meet in the front of the neck. One small western species of Brant is called the Gray-Bellied Brant.  It is found in the high arctic of Canada and winters in Washington State and British Columbia.  Another western species is called the Black Brant.  This Brant is common  in our area, since Morro Bay, CA is a gathering area for these geese in the winter.

Description

The Black Brant Goose is a small, stocky, dark sea goose with a black head and a short black neck.  There is an irregular shaped white patch around the neck that meets in the front; it has a blackish-brown belly and breast, and a white rear end. The wings are dark, long and pointed, and contrast with its white marked flanks.  The legs and feet are black, and it has a black bill. The western birds have more black on the breast and belly, and more extensive white on the neck than the eastern birds.  The juvenile doesn’t have a neck band, but has white edging to wing converts.

Range and Habitat

Black Brant Geese are rarely found inland.  They winter along Pacific coast of North America as well as the Aleutian islands. Their main habitat is estuaries and large bays where they can find food.  They can often be seen as an off-shore migrant.  Salt bays, oceans, mudflats, and tundra are favorite hangouts during the summer.

Behavior

You will find the Black Brant tipping up to feed on eelgrass, and aquatic vegetation like algae. They also forage for invertebrates by wading.  They are never found very far away from salt water. Often times they can be found with Surf Scoters. Black Brant fly strung out in jumbled lines instead of the usual “V” shaped flight of other geese.  They are usually silent but when the flocks are together, they make low, soft, muttering calls of “cronk”.  When these Brants fly, their flight is rapid and they fly low over the water.  They can be found wintering together in flocks and feeding on the mudflats.

Breeding and Nesting

Pairs are often formed on the wintering grounds.  Brant Geese nest in loose colonies.  The nest is a depression in ground on the tundra, and is covered by a thick layer of down.  It is usually placed near a water source. The female Brant lays 4-8 eggs.  Both of the parents incubate the eggs.  They young fledge in 40-50 days but remain close to the parents until the first migration is over.

Photo Gallery Black Brant Goose