This species has a very large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: http://www.aerc.eu/DOCS/Bird_taxa_of _the_WP15.xls.
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
The overall trend is suspected to be increasing (Wetlands International 2006).EcologyBehaviour
This species is fully migratory (del Hoyo et al
. 1992), travelling on a narrow front (Kear 2005a) between separate breeding and wintering grounds (del Hoyo et al
. 1992). It breeds from mid-May to late-June or early-July (Kear 2005a) in territorial pairs (Madge and Burn 1988) which may form loose colonies (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al
. 1992) of not more than c.10 pairs (Snow and Perrins 1998). After breeding the species undergoes a flightless moulting period in July and August that lasts for c.25 days (Scott and Rose 1996), during which it remains close to open water (such as the sea or early thawing lakes) (Kear 2005a). Icelandic non-breeding flocks migrate to staging areas (Madge and Burn 1988, Kear 2005a) in east Greenland to moult, whereas breeding birds from Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland remain near their breeding areas (Scott and Rose 1996). After moulting the species departs from its breeding and staging grounds (Kear 2005a) from August to mid-September (Madge and Burn 1988), most arriving on the wintering grounds in October (Madge and Burn 1988). Outside of the breeding season the species remains highly gregarious (Madge and Burn 1988), generally forming large concentrations in the autumn (commonly up to 5,000 in the UK) (Snow and Perrins 1998) and in winter (Madge and Burn 1988). These aggregations are usually loose however, with large roosting flocks dispersing into smaller foraging groups by day (Snow and Perrins 1998). During the winter the species roosts on water by night and forages in nearly all hours of daylight (Kear 2005a). Habitat Breeding
The species breeds on rocky outcrops, crags, steep river gorges (del Hoyo et al
. 1992, Kear 2005a), cliffs, riverbanks and snow-free hummocks near areas of lush vegetation (Greenland) (Kear 2005a) in open arctic tundra (del Hoyo et al
. 1992), especially near seabird colonies (Kear 2005a). Later in the summer the species forages chiefly on damp sedge-meadows, and while moulting and flightless it remains close to the sea or early-thawing lakes (Kear 2005a). Non-breeding
The species overwinters on extensive areas of saltmarsh (Madge and Burn 1988, Kear 2005a) in estuaries (del Hoyo et al
. 1992) and on flat agricultural land (del Hoyo et al
. 1992) (e.g. improved or fertilised grasslands, stubble fields, pastures and newly sown cereal fields) (Kear 2005a). In Scotland favoured winter daytime roosting sites include estuarine mudflats, lochs and reservoirs (Madge and Burn 1988). Diet
The species is hebivorous (del Hoyo et al
. 1992) and an opportunistic forager (Kear 2005a). Breeding
During the breeding season its diet consists of the leaves, stems, roots, berries and seed-heads of sedges, mosses, lichens (del Hoyo et al
. 1992), Empetrum
spp. and grasses (Kear 2005a). Non-breeding
In its wintering areas the species is more reliant on grass, grain, vegetables (e.g. carrots, sugar beet (Kear 2005a)) and potatoes grown on agricultural land (del Hoyo et al
. 1992). Breeding site
The nest is a low mound of vegetation (del Hoyo et al
. 1992, Kear 2005a) on cliffs, rocky outcrops or snow-free hummocks (Kear 2005a) often near seabird colonies (Kear 2005a). The species nests in territorial pairs (Madge and Burn 1988) which may from loose colonies (Madge and Burn 1988, del Hoyo et al
. 1992) of not more than c.10 pairs, with neighbouring nests spaced as little as 5 m apart (usually more than 75 m apart) (Snow and Perrins 1998). Management information
An investigation carried out in one of the species's wintering areas (UK) found that it was most likely to forage on grasslands a minimum of 6 ha in area, managed by livestock grazing or mechanical cutting, with an optimum sward height of 13-20 cm (although the species was also found to use heavily grazed land down to a sward height to 1.5 cm), at a distance of less than 10 km away from roosting sites (the optimum distance was 2-5 km away) (Vickery and Gill 1999). Fertilising the grassland with nitrogenous fertiliser (ammonium nitrate 34.5 % N) in early-March at a rate of 80 kg N ha1
was also found to double the grazing intensity of geese compared to unfertilised areas (although no further increases were found with higher rates of fertiliser application) (Vickery and Gill 1999). Studies in the Vejlerne nature reserve, Denmark found that wind turbines placed in lines or small clusters cause less disturbance to the species than large clusters (small clusters may be placed in conjunction with existing physical elements such as roads, wind-breaks or buildings, and are therefore less likely to coincide with grasslands areas used for grazing by the species) (Larsen and Madsen 2000).Threats
The species is hunted illegally in the spring in Iceland which may become a threat (Kear 2005a). Disturbance from hunting on spring staging grounds in Norway has major negative impact on breeding success, and persecution (shooting and disturbance) of the species by farmers is likely to increase in the future if populations increase (due to the species's impact on agricultural grassland) (Kear 2005a). Disturbance from farmers discouraging foraging individuals from their land in the winter has been shown to reduce the species's reproductive success in the spring (Madsen 1995), and the species is also threatened by general disturbance (e.g. from helicopters surveying areas for oil exploration) (Mosbech and Glahder 1991). It may be threatened by land-management changes (such as a reduction in the intensity of management and land abandonment) (Tombre et al
. 2005), and by future habitat loss such as the development of hydroelectric projects on interior rivers in Iceland (which would flood a major moulting area) (Kear 2005a). The nesting success of breeding pairs in Svalbard is greatly reduced as a result of arctic fox Vulpes lagopus
predation (Madsen et al
. 1992). Utilisation
The species is subject to hunting in Svalbard, Norway and Denmark, although mortality due to hunting does not seem to be a major factor controlling population sizes (O'Connell et al
del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A.; Sargatal, J. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 1: Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
Delany, S.; Scott, D. 2006. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Kear, J. 2005. Ducks, geese and swans volume 1: general chapters; species accounts (Anhima to Salvadorina). Oxford University Press, Oxford, U.K.
Larsen, J. K.; Madsen, J. 2000. Effects of wind turbines and other physical elements on field utilization by pink-footed geese (Anser brachyrhynchus): A landscape perspective. Landscape Ecology 15: 755-764.
Madge, S.; Burn, H. 1988. Wildfowl. Christopher Helm, London.
Madsen, J. 1995. Impacts of disturbance on migratory waterfowl. Ibis 137: S67-S74.
Madsen, J.; Bregnballe, T.; Hastrup, A. 1992. Impact of the Arctic Fox Alopex lagopus on nesting success of geese in south-east Svalbard, 1989. Polar Research 11(2): 35-39.
Mosbech, A.; Glahder, C. 1991. Assessment of the impact of helicopter disturbance on moulting pink-footed geese Anser brachyrhynchus and barnacle geese Branta leucopsis in Jameson Land, Greenland. Ardea 79(2): 233-237.
O'Connell, M. J.; Huiskes, A. H. L.; Loonen, M. L.; Madsen, J.; Klaaseen, M.; Rounsevell, M. 2006. Developing an integrated approach to understanding the effects of climate change and other environmental alterations at a flyway level. In: Boere, G.; Galbraith, C., Stroud, D (ed.), Waterbirds around the world, pp. 385-397. The Stationary Office, Edinburgh, UK.
Scott, D. A.; Rose, P. M. 1996. Atlas of Anatidae populations in Africa and western Eurasia. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. 1998. The Birds of the Western Palearctic vol. 1: Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Tombre, I. M.; Tømmervik, H.; Madsen, J. 2005. Land use changes and goose habitats, assessed by remote sensing techniques, and corresponding goose distribution, in Vesteralen, Northern Norway. Agriculture Ecosystems & Environment 109: 284-296.
Vickery, J. A.; Gill, J. A. 1999. Managing grassland for wild geese in Britain: a review. Biological Conservation 89: 93-106.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from Birds in Europe: population estimates, trends and conservation status (BirdLife International 2004)
The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust (WWT) - Species Account
Text account compilers
Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Malpas, L.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Anser brachyrhynchus. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 17/03/2014.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 17/03/2014.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.