Latin name: BRANTA RUFICOLLIS Order: ANSERIFORMES Family:ANATIDAE

English name: Red-Breasted Goose
Dutch name : Roodhalsgans
French name: Bernache à cou roux
German name: Rothalsgans
Spanish name: Barnacla de Cuello Rojo
Min size 54 cm ,max size 60 cm
Min eggs 3 ,max eggs 7
Incubation min. 23 days ,Incubation max. 25 days
Fledging min. 34 days ,fledging max. 37 days

Description
Unmistakable red, black and white goose. Chestnut-red foreneck, breast and sides of head, bordered white. White flank-stripe and black belly.
White rear belly and black tail. Juvenile generally duller than adult. Short neck and dark belly stand out in flight. Similar spp. Can be surprisingly
difficult to detect amongst large flocks of other geese. Voice Repeated, jerky kik-yoik, kik-yik in flight.

Distribution
This species is breeding in the tundra of northern Russia, more precisely on the Taymyr, Gydan and Yamal peninsulas. It used to winter in large
numbers South of the Caspian Sea, and was known from Egypt and Iraq. Since the 1940’s and 1950’s it has shifted its winter quarters to
south-eastern Europe, however, mainly to Romania and Bulgaria. It also appears irregularly and in small numbers in Hungary, Greece and Turkey.
Its global population amounts to about 70000 individuals, but only a few dozens or hundreds of birds (maximum 2000) are visiting the European
Union, particularly northern Greece. Following the strong decline in the wintering areas South of the Caspian Sea the species was considered as
endangered, but the discovery of large wintering populations in Romania makes this conclusion unlikely or exaggerated. In fact the actual trends
of this species are still unknown. The reasons are explained below.
It has been difficult to monitor changes in Red-breasted Goose numbers as the birds range across a wide wintering area (c.1,200,000 km2) and
counts have been infrequent. The maximum population estimates and counts (where available) for each year since 1899 are given in Annex 2.
Prior to 1954, records were scarce, but it is thought that numbers were larger than, or similar to, those of today. In 1899 “many tens of
thousands of Red-breasted Geese were seen in their wintering sites” (Krivenko 1983). Between 1956 and 1967 numbers were estimated at
c.50,000-60,000; the best coverage was achieved in the winters of 1967 and 1968 when a total of 49,000 was counted in the Black and Caspian
Sea regions, divided equally between the two. Between 1969 and 1989 count totals did not exceed 30,000, and ornithologists suggested that the
population might have crashed due to the birds being forced from their traditional wintering area on the Caspian Sea and/or the effects of DDT on
Peregrines Falco peregrinus which protect nesting geese from arctic foxes Alopex lagopus. Recent counts, which included coverage throughout the
Black Sea wintering range, gave population estimates of 70,000-74,000 in three consecutive years. However, the overall count for 1993/94 was
only 37,400, in spite of near-optimum count coverage (excluding the Caspian region), illustrating the erratic nature of population estimates.
The 1991-1993 counts indicate, therefore, either that the population doubled in size in just a few years (i.e. from 25,000 in 1989 to 70,000 in
1991) or, more likely, that significant proportions of the population were not recorded in previous years, especially in the late 1980s. Indications
from other, well studied, goose populations (Owen and Black 1990) suggest that the former hypothesis is unlikely. It is also possible, therefore,
that the apparent decline in the Red-breasted Goose population in the 1970s may have been much less dramatic.
The apparent increase in Red-breasted Goose numbers may be due to improved monitoring, but as information is limited it may also be the result
of improved conservation in both the breeding and wintering ranges and/or possibly the recovery of populations of birds of prey. Recent world
population estimates are 70,000 to 74,000.

Habitat
Nesting is mostly in tundra and sometimes in open parts of northern shrub tundra, where the species favours high and dry situations on steep
river banks, steep rocky slopes, low rocky crags or gulleys. Cover is usually thin and includes dwarf birch Betula, willow Salix or dead grass.
Proximity to the nests of Peregrines, Rough-legged Buzzards or gulls may improve breeding success. The geese usually nest close to adequate
water, to provide a refuge for the young. There is little information available on the habitat and its use at staging sites, though steppe habitats
are apparently used on migration.
On the western Black Sea coast, the winter feeding habitat comprises agricultural land dominated by cereal crops and grassland. The birds
periodically fly to coastal lakes to drink. These lakes, situated up to 50 km from the feeding areas, are also safe night-roosts. The proximity of
drinking and roosting sites to feeding areas may influence winter distribution. In Bulgaria, Red-breasted Geese roost on water; usually in the
middle of lakes, but occasionally, or in times of high hunting pressure, on the sea if it is calm. When the lakes freeze (which is rare) they roost on
the ice. Roost sites in Romania are in remote parts of wetlands where the geese utilise shallow water, and muddy and sandy beaches with low
aquatic vegetation. On the Evros delta in Greece, the Red-breasted Goose feeds, and possibly roosts, on a specific area of natural vegetation.

Feeding
During breeding, grass leaves and the shoots of cotton-grass Eriophorum angustifolium make up the bulk of the diet. Grass shoots may be
supplemented with tubers and rhizomes on steppe habitat during migration. Historically, when the geese wintered on the Caspian Sea coast, they
fed on glasswort Salicornia from coastal mudflats and steppe pasture/stubble, but loss of these natural habitats may have forced the geese onto
the agricultural lands of the Black Sea coast. On the main wintering sites in Romania and Bulgaria the geese now feed predominantly on winter
wheat, barley, maize, some pasture grasses and spilt grain. In Bulgaria in March, the geese will feed on grass shoots in ploughed fields. Other
plants taken include pondweed Potamogeton and seeds of Galium and Bolboschoenus.

Breeding
The breeding range of the Red-breasted Goose is restricted to the arctic tundra of the Taimyr, Gydan and Yamal peninsulas . In all, 70% of the
breeding population nests in the Taimyr, the rest in Gydan and Yamal. For detailed accounts of breeding sites within these areas. The breeding
range in the Taimyr area is thought to be expanding. Small numbers may be breeding in the tundra west of the Ural mountains, but this is not
likely to be a significant proportion of the population. Red-breasted Geese moult on, or near, the breeding grounds. The flightless stage of moult
lasts for 15-20 days between mid-July and late August. Non-breeders moult two weeks earlier.
Red-breasted Geese arrive on the breeding grounds in early June, around the time that the snow on the tundra melts. They nest in colonies
averaging five to six pairs. Laying begins in the second half of June and the clutch contains 3-10 eggs, most commonly 4-5. Incubation lasts 25
days and the fledging period 5-6 weeks. Clutch loss is usually less than 15-20%. Breeding success fluctuates from year to year and depends
mainly on the birds’ condition when they arrive on the breeding grounds, as well as on climate, predation and population levels of birds of prey.
Severe climatic conditions can inhibit all recruitment. The arctic fox is the main predator, the degree of predation depending largely on the cyclical
variation in abundance of the fox’s main prey, the lemming, and on the proximity of nests to those of Peregrines, Rough-legged Buzzards Buteo variation in abundance of the fox’s main prey, the lemming, and on the proximity of nests to those of Peregrines, Rough-legged Buzzards Buteo lagopus and gulls which are thought to impart protection from the fox. Observations showed a correlation between the presence of nests of these birds and the average number of nests of Red-breasted Geese.

Migration
Highly migratory; The spring migration starts in March. There are three to four main staging areas. Staging areas are thought to be the same for
both spring and autumn migration, and the available literature indicates that there appear to be four major ones. From the breeding grounds, the
birds migrate south along a corridor only 100-150 km wide, across the Nadym and Pura basins, to the first staging area at the Ob floodplains on
the Arctic Circle. The next site is on the middle Ob near Khanty-Mansisk, Russia. A small number have been known to stage in the region between
Surgut and the River Vakh. From the middle Ob, the birds move south-west across the south of the west Siberian plain, over the town of Kustanai
to the third major staging area on the Tobol-Ishim forest-steppe and the watersheds of the Ubagan, Ulkayak and Irgizin rivers in the Kazakh
uplands. Passing over the towns of Orsk and Aktyubinsk, they then move across the north of the Caspian Sea to stage in the Manych valley,
Russia. Some may stop off on the Sea of Azov and may remain to winter on the northern Black Sea coast in the Ukraine, but it seems that the
next stop is generally the main wintering grounds in Bulgaria and Romania.
In early May the birds reach the Kazakh uplands and by early June have reached the breeding grounds. Autumn migration starts in
mid-September, birds reaching Kazakhstan by the end of September. A few may continue south to the Aral Sea, while the majority travel
south-west towards the Caspian. Small flocks may remain to winter on the Caspian Sea coast in Azerbaijan and some individuals continue south to
Iran and Iraq. The majority, however, travel on to the western Black Sea coast, arriving in October-November and are usually found with
White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons. Small numbers may visit Greece from the main winter quarters in Bulgaria and Romania.
Prior to 1950, the main wintering areas were the southern coasts of the Caspian Sea, particularly the south-west coast. In 1968, counts indicated
that about half the wintering population shifted to the west coast of the Black Sea (Annex 2) which is c.1,800 km west of the Caspian. In the
1970s, very few Red-breasted Geese were found on the traditional sites on the Caspian, presumably because of reduced food availability and
hunting pressure. Scattered records of small flocks further south may indicate that the birds ranged much further before monitoring began. The
earliest known records of Red-breasted Geese are from Egyptian friezes c.6,000 years old, perhaps suggesting that they were once frequent
visitors to that area.
The current wintering areas on the Black Sea coast are the Shabla and Durankulak lakes of Bulgaria, the lagoon/steppe complex of the Danube
delta in Romania, and the Dobrodgea plateau which lies between the Danube and the coast and spans the Bulgaria/Romania border. In recent
winters, 80-90% of the world population of Red-breasted Geese wintered in Bulgaria. Small flocks winter in the Ukraine and possibly Azerbaijan
while others may visit Greece. Occasionally very small numbers reach Hungary, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. The species is accidental in the United
Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, France, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, Spain,
Albania, Serbia, Israel, Cyprus, Egypt and south-east China.

Conservation
This species has a small wintering range with 80-90% of the population concentrated in just five roost sites and the remainder occurring in a few
other areas. This range continues to decline as a result of land-use changes to nearby feeding areas. It is therefore listed as  ENDANGERED.

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July 29th, 2008 | Tags: | Category: |

1 Comment

  1. The red-breasted goose is globally threatened, and classified as ‘Endangered’ on the IUCN Red List.

    It breeds in Arctic Russia and migrates south and then west to winter around the Black Sea, particularly in Bulgaria, Romania and the Ukraine.

    Stop hunting these species. The increase tourism developments along the Black Sea coastal zone in recent years threatens their survival. Let us help them live a longer generation.

    Peter
    Webmaster, BestCoffeeMaker.biz
    Cuisinart

    Comment by Cuisinart — May 4, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

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