Photo: Doug Wechsler/Vireo

Priority Bird

Brant

Branta bernicla

No other geese nest as far north as the Brant, and few migrate as far. These small geese are characteristic of coastal areas in summer and winter; most birdwatchers know them from seeing their wintering flocks along both of our coasts. Traveling between their summer and winter outposts, they may fly at altitudes of several thousand feet as they cross great expanses of land or open ocean.
Conservation status In 1930s, a sudden die-off of eelgrass along Atlantic Coast (the main winter food of Brant) may have had serious impact on this species. No long-term damage to numbers, as Brant were able to switch to other food sources, and eelgrass has made partial recovery in these areas.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Salt bays, estuaries; tundra (summer). Usually on wet coastal tundra of high Arctic in summer, along coastlines in fairly mild climates in winter. Migrants may make regular stopovers on a few freshwater lakes in the interior of the continent.
No other geese nest as far north as the Brant, and few migrate as far. These small geese are characteristic of coastal areas in summer and winter; most birdwatchers know them from seeing their wintering flocks along both of our coasts. Traveling between their summer and winter outposts, they may fly at altitudes of several thousand feet as they cross great expanses of land or open ocean.
Brant around Connecticut

Audubon Connecticut’s priority bird species are birds of significant conservation need, for which our actions, over time, can lead to measurable improvements in status.  Some of these species are listed as vulnerable or near threatened on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Redlist.  Others are species of conservation concern on the National Audubon Society’s Watchlist or identified as priorities by Partners in Flight.  Many priority species are also listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern  in Connecticut and are included in Connecticut’s Wildlife Action Plan. The breadth of this list reflects the dramatic loss of habitat and the pervasive threats that confront birds and other wildlife.

Photo Gallery
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Feeding Behavior

forages by wading or tipping up in shallow water, or by walking on tidal flats or on shore. Feeds in flocks at most times of year.


Eggs

3-5, rarely up to 8. Creamy white to pale olive, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by female only, 22-26 days, usually 24. When female leaves nest to feed, she covers eggs with down, keeping them warm. Young: leave nest within 1-2 days after hatching, are tended by both parents and led to feeding areas, where young find their own food. In long daylight of high Arctic, young feed at all hours and develop rapidly, fledging at 40-50 days.


Young

leave nest within 1-2 days after hatching, are tended by both parents and led to feeding areas, where young find their own food. In long daylight of high Arctic, young feed at all hours and develop rapidly, fledging at 40-50 days.

Diet

mostly plant material. In migration and winter, eats aquatic plants; eelgrass heavily favored where available, also takes wigeon grass, rockgrass, green algae, others. On breeding grounds, grazes on sedges, grasses, pondweed, others. Also eat a few aquatic insects, mollusks, worms.


Nesting

Pair bond usually formed on wintering grounds. Often breeds in loose colonies. Nest site is on small island in tundra pond, slight rise in low grassy flats, usually within 1-5 miles of coast and often subject to destruction by storm tides. Nest is a shallow bowl of grass and other materials, heavily lined with down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Long-distance migrant, traveling in flocks. Birds from central Canadian Arctic move down east side of Hudson Bay, then may make nonstop flight overland from southern James Bay to central Atlantic Coast of USA. In Alaska, large numbers gather at Izembek Lagoon and then depart almost simultaneously for long overwater flight to wintering areas on Pacific Coast. Migrating flocks may fly very high. Wintering birds may linger later in spring than most geese, as coastal breeding areas in high Arctic remain unsuitable for nesting until summer.

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Migration

Long-distance migrant, traveling in flocks. Birds from central Canadian Arctic move down east side of Hudson Bay, then may make nonstop flight overland from southern James Bay to central Atlantic Coast of USA. In Alaska, large numbers gather at Izembek Lagoon and then depart almost simultaneously for long overwater flight to wintering areas on Pacific Coast. Migrating flocks may fly very high. Wintering birds may linger later in spring than most geese, as coastal breeding areas in high Arctic remain unsuitable for nesting until summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A low guttural ruk-ruk.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Ducks and Geese Duck-like Birds

Brant

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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