Red breasted goose

Branta Ruficollis

IUCN Status: Endangered


This is an herbivorous goose that feeds by grazing on grasses leaves and seeds around lakesides and rivers usually during the day in the summer breeding grounds. In winter they graze on wheat, barley and pasture grasslands around the western shoreline of the Black Sea.


Colonies of 4 + pairs occur on islands in rivers where 3-10 eggs are laid with a 25 day incubation in the thawed wet tundra. Six weeks to fledge and then the “over-wintering” migration begins in September to the Black Sea.

At The Zoo

We have a pair of red breasted geese in with our glossy ibis at exhibit 36.They are constantly grazing and we have to take care to ensure they do not kill the grass by cropping it too short! Our pairlay fertile eggs and we often have goslings but incubators are used due to egg predation.


The arctic tundra is home to this goose whilst breeding and then flocks migrate to the wetlands of the steppe near then Black Sea to overwinter.

Fun Facts

This has to be the most attractive species of goose in the world with the dominant blocks of red and black plumage colour. As this is not an aggressive goose they also try and nest as near to nesting birds of prey as they can such as peregrines and snowy owls. Ukraine offers tourist trips to hunt and shoot these geese during migration and in Russia they are regularly hunted on their breeding grounds.


Red-breasted geese migrate and have winter and summer grounds used for breeding and “over-wintering”! A flock species using the same main overwintering locations in Bulgaria, Hungary and the Black Sea