|Conservation status||Threatened. Alaska population, estimated at 139,000 in 1964, declined to 42,000 by 1986, then was estimated at 85,000 in 2001. Causes for declines are not well understood; may be related to hunting, possibly also to oil pollution in wintering areas. Status of Siberian population not well known, but apparently declining for much of 20th century. As a coastal breeder in the far north, probably quite vulnerable to the effects of climate change.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||In summer, tundra; in winter, rocky shores, mudflats. Closely tied to salt water at all seasons. Most nesting areas on low marshy tundra within 10 miles of coast, near sloughs and rivers affected by tides. Flocks in migration stop over on large coastal estuaries. In winter, found along shorelines. Autumn strays south to Oregon and California may appear well inland.|
On breeding grounds, forages mostly on land, grubbing for roots, grazing on fresh growth. During migration and winter, forages on mudflats exposed by falling tides, walking on wet mud or in shallow water.
4-6, sometimes 2-8. Creamy white, becoming nest-stained. Females frequently lay eggs in each others' nests. Incubation is by female only, typically 24 days, up to 27. Young: goslings can walk and swim within hours after hatching, usually leave nest in less than a day, following parents to good feeding areas that may be several miles from nest site. Both parents tend young. Adults with broods adopt a threat posture with neck outstretched and bill pointed toward source of disturbance. Young fledge in 50-60 days.
Goslings can walk and swim within hours after hatching, usually leave nest in less than a day, following parents to good feeding areas that may be several miles from nest site. Both parents tend young. Adults with broods adopt a threat posture with neck outstretched and bill pointed toward source of disturbance. Young fledge in 50-60 days.
Varies with season. On breeding grounds, mostly plant material: roots and bulbs early in season, fresh growth of sedges and other plants during summer. In late summer, may feed on crowberry or blueberry. During migration and winter feeds heavily on clams and mussels, also on marine algae and other plants.
May mate for life, and pairs seem to be formed before arrival on breeding grounds. Nest site on small island in pond, raised hummock or shoreline, surrounded by low dead vegetation but with good visibility. Nest is a shallow scrape lined with dead plant material and with large amounts of down.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Short-distance migrant. Often migrates in large flocks. Timing of migration affected by weather. In spring and fall, flocks may stage for several weeks in large lagoons on north shore of Alaska Peninsula before moving on to breeding areas on west coast of Alaska or wintering areas in Aleutians.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsLoud musical notes, kla-ha, kla-ha, kla-ha.
Learn more about this sound collection.