Brent Geese

The Brant Geese (Branta bernicla) – also known in North America as Brants, Brent Geese or Black Brants – are small, blackish geese that breed in the extreme high Arctic in all northern countries.

Their range extends from Greenland to Svalbard and northern Russia, continuing through coastal Alaska and Arctic Canada.

These geese have distinguished themselves amongst geese for their strong, efficient flight over extraordinary distances that may involve several thousand miles as they migrate to and from their breeding territories.

Further Goose Information


The small and short-necked Brent Geese measure about 25 inches or 60 cm in length. They are about the size of mallards (ducks). The plumage is mostly dark except for their small white neck patches and white undertail feathers. The bill is short and stubby.

Brent Goose (Branta bernicla) in a defensive position - Photo Tim Bowman, USFWS - Public Domain

Brant Goose (Branta bernicla)

The species is divided three subspecies:

  • Dark-bellied Brant Geese(Branta bernicla bernicla)
    • Range: Breed on the Arctic coasts of central and western Siberia. Migrate south to winter in Western Europe (mostly in southern England, northern Germany and northern France)
    • ID: Uniformly dark grey-brown all over. The head and neck are black, with a small white patch on either side of the neck.
  • Pale-bellied Brant Geese aka Light-bellied Brant Geese in Europe and Atlantic Brants in North America) (Branta bernicla hrota)
    • Range: Breeds in Franz Josef Land, Svalbard, Greenland and northeastern Canada. Migrate south to inter in Denmark, northeast England, Strangford Lough in Northern Ireland and the Atlantic coast of the United States – from Maine to Georgia.
    • ID: Plumage is blackish-brown and light grey. The abdomen and the flanks are significantly paler than the back. The head and neck are black, except for a small white patch on either side of the neck.
  • Black Brants (Branta bernicla nigricans)
    • Range: Breed in northwestern Canada, Alaska and eastern Siberia. For the winter, they migrate to the west coast of North America from southern Alaska to California. Some wander to East Asia (mostly Japan).
    • ID: Plumage is dark sooty-brown back, except for a white flank patch and larger white neck patches that form a near-complete collar.
Brant Goose Geese (Branta bernicla)
Brant Geese (Branta bernicla)
Dark bellied Brent goose (Branta bernicla)

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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