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Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List Criteria

Critically Endangered  
Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd 

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2015 Vulnerable
2012 Endangered
2008 Endangered
2007 Endangered
2006 Vulnerable
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable
1988 Threatened

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type continent
Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 44,200 medium
Number of locations 6-10 -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals good Estimated 2013
Population trend Decreasing medium Suspected -
Number of subpopulations 1 - - -
Largest subpopulation 100 - - -
Generation length (yrs) 10.9 - - -
Population justification: Coordinated censuses in January 2003, 2004 and 2005 resulted in total population estimates of 33,600, 52,800 and 32,100 individuals respectively. The geometric mean of these totals 38,500. Recalculating this including the 2006 count of c.34,000 gives a revised geometric mean of 37,000 individuals. However, total counts of 40,800 in spring 2008 (primarily as a result of a large count in Kalmykia), 44,300 the following winter (Cranswick et al. 2010) and a maximum population count of 56,860 in autumn 2010 (Rozenfeld 2011a) lend further weight to the suggestion that counts in the mid 2000s might be partially incomplete because birds wintered away from the traditionally surveyed sites. In 2015, Wetlands International increased its global population estimate from c. 44,000 to c. 56,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015).
Trend justification:

Variation in survey intensity and coverage historically makes determination of trends difficult. Following a count of 60,000 in the mid 1950s, totals rarely exceeded 20,000 until intensive winter surveys in the 1990s recorded over 70,000. Two counts of just under 90,000 in the late 1990s were considered accurate (Aarvak et al. 1996, D. Hulea in litt. 2003) and an increase since the 1970s. Coordinated winter counts were then initiated in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine since 1995, with at least one count in each winter month. Only around 30,000 were recorded in the early 2000s. It has been suggested that some birds may have been overlooked, wintering further east than expected (in eastern Ukraine or south-west Russia) where survey coverage was much less comprehensive or absent, though no new wintering sites have been found. Numbers recorded during winter surveys recovered slightly, with an average of 37,300 during the mid 2000s (S. Dereliev in litt. to Wetlands International 2005), but representing a decline of more than 50% since the late 1990s.

Counts during migration periods since 2008 have recorded larger numbers, e.g. 40,800 in spring 2008 in Kalmykia, 56,860 in autumn 2010 in Northern Kazakhstan (Rozenfeld 2011a) and c. 150,000 individuals in autumn 2012 (Rozenfeld et al. 2012). The use of such areas during migration potentially make survey efforts more effective, concentrating birds that may be widely dispersed during winter, though rapid turnover at sites during migration also presents potential problems of missing or double-counting birds. In January 2013, c. 56,000 birds were counted in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine (N. Petkov in litt. 2013), however post-January 2013 numbers in Bulgaria and Romania have failed to reach 30,000 individuals (E. Todorov in litt. 2015). These findings suggest that during milder winters birds may now winter farther east where survey effort is less comprehensive (Cranswick et al. 2012). Recent surveys also suggest that the species may be wintering farther west, with more than 2,000 wintering in Hungary (mainly Hortobágy National Park) in winter 2014-2015 (T. Zalai in litt. 2015). The recently published European Red List of Birds suggests that the European population is declining, but only slightly (BirdLife International 2015). Whilst migration counts suggest a recent increase, further corroboration is required to confirm an accurate current estimate.

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Afghanistan Unknown Extant     Yes  
Armenia Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Austria Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Azerbaijan Vagrant Extant        
Belarus Vagrant Extant        
Belgium Vagrant Extant        
Bosnia and Herzegovina Vagrant Extant        
Bulgaria Native Extant   Yes    
China (mainland) Vagrant Extant        
Croatia Native Extant   Yes    
Cyprus Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Denmark Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Egypt Vagrant Extant        
Finland Vagrant Extant        
France Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Georgia Vagrant Extant        
Germany Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Greece Native Extant   Yes    
Greenland (to Denmark) Vagrant Extant        
Hungary Vagrant Extant   Yes    
India Vagrant Extant        
Iran, Islamic Republic of Native Extant   Yes    
Iraq Native Extant   Yes    
Ireland Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Israel Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Italy Vagrant Extant        
Kazakhstan Native Extant     Yes  
Kyrgyzstan Unknown Extant     Yes  
Latvia Vagrant Extant        
Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Native Extant   Yes    
Moldova Native Extant   Yes Yes  
Montenegro Native Extant   Yes    
Netherlands Vagrant Extant        
Norway Vagrant Extant        
Poland Vagrant Extant        
Romania Native Extant   Yes    
Russia Native Extant Yes   Yes Yes
Russia (Asian) Native Extant Yes      
Russia (Central Asian) Native Extant Yes   Yes  
Russia (European) Native Extant     Yes Yes
Serbia Native Extant   Yes    
Slovakia Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Spain Vagrant Extant        
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) Vagrant Extant        
Sweden Vagrant Extant        
Syria Unknown Extant   Yes    
Tajikistan Unknown Extant     Yes  
Turkey Native Extant   Yes    
Turkmenistan Unknown Extant     Yes  
Ukraine Native Extant   Yes Yes  
United Kingdom Vagrant Extant        
Uzbekistan Unknown Extant   Yes Yes  

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Azerbaijan Gizilagach State Reserve site factsheet
Bulgaria Atanasovsko Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Burgasko Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake site factsheet
Bulgaria Kaliakra site factsheet
Bulgaria Kalimok Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Pozharevo Island site factsheet
Bulgaria Shabla Lake Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Srebarna site factsheet
Bulgaria Straldzha Complex site factsheet
Bulgaria Svishtov-Belene Lowland site factsheet
Greece Evros delta site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Kobi site factsheet
Iran, Islamic Republic of Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay site factsheet
Iraq Shuweicha Marsh site factsheet
Kazakhstan Aksuat Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Akzhan Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Balykty Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Batpakkol lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Bolshoy Kak Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Irgiz-Turgay Lakes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Kamyshovoe-Zhamankol Lakes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Kazakhstan Koybagar-Tyuntyugur Lake System site factsheet
Kazakhstan Kulykol-Taldykol Lake System site factsheet
Kazakhstan Kushmurun Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Maliy Kak Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Naurzum State Nature Reserve site factsheet
Kazakhstan Sankebay Lakes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Sarykopa Lake System site factsheet
Kazakhstan Shaglyteniz Lake and marshes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Shagyrkol and Mamyrkol lakes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Shoshkaly Lake System site factsheet
Kazakhstan Sorbalyk-Maybalyk Lake System site factsheet
Kazakhstan Sulukol Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Terenkol Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Zhaltyr Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Zharsor-Urkash Salt Lakes site factsheet
Kazakhstan Zhylandy Lake site factsheet
Kazakhstan Zhylandy Lake site factsheet
Romania Balta Albă - Amara - Jirlău site factsheet
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei site factsheet
Romania Beştepe - Mahmudia site factsheet
Romania Black Sea site factsheet
Romania Braţul Borcea site factsheet
Romania Ciocăneşti - Dunăre site factsheet
Romania Danube Delta site factsheet
Romania Dobrogei gorge site factsheet
Romania Dunăre - Ostroave site factsheet
Romania Ianca - Plopul - Sărat site factsheet
Romania Iezerul Călăraşi site factsheet
Romania Lake Beibugeac (Plopu) site factsheet
Romania Lake Brateş site factsheet
Romania Lake Bugeac site factsheet
Romania Lake Dunăreni site factsheet
Romania Lake Fundata site factsheet
Romania Lake Oltina site factsheet
Romania Lake Siutghiol site factsheet
Romania Lake Strachina site factsheet
Romania Lake Taşaul site factsheet
Romania Lake Tataru site factsheet
Romania Lake Techirghiol site factsheet
Romania Limanu - Herghelia site factsheet
Romania Măxineni site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Gusikha river basin and lower Balakhnya river site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Pura river basin site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Terpyey-Tumus site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Trekhozerki lakes site factsheet
Russia (Asian) Ulukhkol' lake site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Atyazh lakes site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Dvuob'ye site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Lower Ob' site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Makushinsky Zakaznik site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Mouth of the Uy river site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Pelymsky Tuman site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Siverga lake site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Upper and Middle Yuribey site factsheet
Russia (Central Asian) Valley of the Yorkutayakha river site factsheet
Russia (European) Dadynskiye lakes site factsheet
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don site factsheet
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo site factsheet
Russia (European) Kazachka site factsheet
Russia (European) Kissyk area site factsheet
Russia (European) Kozinka lake and Baranikovski segment of Manych site factsheet
Russia (European) Kulaksay lowland site factsheet
Russia (European) Kurnikov liman site factsheet
Russia (European) Lysyi Liman lake and valley of Vostochniy Manych river site factsheet
Russia (European) Manychstroi area site factsheet
Russia (European) Moksha flood-plain in vicinity of Krasnoslobodsk site factsheet
Russia (European) Moksha valley in vicinity of Temnikov site factsheet
Russia (European) Novotroitskoye reservoir site factsheet
Russia (European) Ptich'ye (Bird's) Lake site factsheet
Russia (European) Sarpinskaya lake-system site factsheet
Russia (European) Shalkaro-Zhetykol'ski lake system site factsheet
Russia (European) Southern part of Chograiski reservoir site factsheet
Russia (European) Veselovskoye reservoir site factsheet
Russia (European) Vorono-Khoperski area site factsheet
Turkey Büyükçekmece Lake site factsheet
Turkey Gediz Delta site factsheet
Turkey Saros Bay site factsheet
Turkey Terkos Basin site factsheet
Turkey Tuz Lake site factsheet
Ukraine Agricultural lands near Bilorets'ke (Chornozemne village) site factsheet
Ukraine Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve site factsheet
Ukraine Chauda site factsheet
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Energodar) site factsheet
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Kozats'ki islands) site factsheet
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays site factsheet
Ukraine Khadzhybejs'kyj lyman site factsheet
Ukraine Kugurluj and Kartal lakes site factsheet
Ukraine Kytaj lake site factsheet
Ukraine Shagany-Alibej-Burnas lake-system site factsheet
Ukraine Snake island site factsheet
Ukraine Yagorlyts'ka and Tendrivs'ka Bays site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land Major non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland Marginal non-breeding
Grassland Temperate Major non-breeding
Grassland Tundra Major breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) Suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) Marginal breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact

Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources / Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species disturbance
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals / Unintentional effects (species is not the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Energy production & mining Oil & gas drilling Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species disturbance


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent
Sport Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - - Subsistence, National
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - - Subsistence, National
Food - human - - - Subsistence, National

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Branta ruficollis. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, Swans)
Species name author (Pallas, 1769)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 44,200 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species
- 2015 European Red List assessment