A Brant is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Brants. We have also put together a list of fun Brant t-shirts, Brant bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.
These geese are known to breed far north, farther than any geese breeds. They are a common sight in coastal areas in summer and winter. They breed in Arctic tundra and winters along coastal areas. The oldest Brant was over 27 years. Initially banded in Alaska but found in Washington. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Identification
Brant are small geese 23 – 25 inches long with stubby bills, making them the smallest geese
in North America. Their necks are relatively short compared to other geese and have white
markings. The wingspan ranges between 41 – 48 inches, the wings being brown and white.
Adults have blackheads, necks, and breasts with white undertails and pale flanks. The
color of the belly varies between regions but is between blackish and dark brown.
Juveniles have pale fringes on their wing coverts and have little to no white on their necks.
Brant Color Pattern
They have dark-brown underparts and brown to pale gray underparts. Their heads and legs are black and the short neck has a white ring around it. The tail is also white while their eyes are dark brown.
Brants are goosed-sized but have the shortest tail compared to other species. They are small and compact and have a small bill.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 22.1-26.0 in (56-66 cm)
- Weight: 42.3-63.5 oz (1200-1800 g)
- Wingspan range: 43-48 in (109-122 cm)
They forage by wading in shallow water. They also forage in large flocks by walking on shore or tidal flats. Brants have a salt gland that enables them to drink salty water. They form pairs during winter and breed in loose colonies.
Brant are vegetarian in diet and consume a variety of marine plants. They rely extensively on
eelgrass and algae during migration and winter and forage for it by either grazing through
the shore during low-tides or by dabbling into shallow waters like ducks. In the 1930s, a
drastic reduction of eelgrass led to the near-extinction of the species. The remaining Brant
began to consume sea lettuce as a survival strategy, a habit that has been continued by the
species to the modern-day in order to prevent a similar catastrophe. During breeding, they
consume plants like hairgrass, alkaligrass, arrowgrass, marestail, dupontia, saxifrage,
pondweed, and other mosses. During the spring, they also feed on new shoots of saltmarsh
cordgrass in the lower parts of marshes.
They mostly feed on plant material. During migration winter they feed heavily on aquatic plants such as wigeon grass, green algae, and other plants. They can also eat numerous aquatic animals such as insects, worms and mollusks. When breeding, they graze on grasses, sedges, pondweeds, etc.
These geese are drawn towards wetlands throughout the year. During breeding, they nest
around estuaries, streams, deltas, river valleys, and islands throughout the tundra. The
staging sites are centered around sedge- and grassland areas near shorelines to provide
sufficient room for foraging and for escape routes from predators. Wintering Brant makes use
of coastal waters, lagoons, and sheltered bays for foraging. Their roosting areas are
generally on mudflats, barrier islands, and sand spits near their foraging areas.
During summer you can find them in the tundra while in other seasons they frequent estuaries and salt bays. In mild winter, they are common along coastlines while during migration, they make stopovers on freshwater lakes in the continent’s interior.
Range and Migration
Brant are small geese that breed in the high-Arctic tundra, the far north of North America.
These long-distant migrants have their breeding grounds along with northern and central Canada
and Alaska. Birds from central Canada migrate south-east towards Hudson Bay before
continuing along to the central Atlantic coast of the United States. Birds that depart from
Alaska gathers in enormous flocks before traveling over open waters towards the Pacific
coast of the United States, often lingering there till late spring-like conditions in the Arctic are
unsuitable for nesting until the peak of summer.
The females lay 3-5 eggs and incubate them for 22-26 days. They cover the eggs with down to keep them warm when they go feeding. The young ones leave the nest after 1-2 days and follow their parents to forage site. Since they feed for long during the long daylight experienced in the Arctic, they develop rapidly. They have 10-20 years lifespan.
The nests are made by the females on the ground and are usually near water bodies and
grass-bodies for feeding. Depressions are made on the soil with grass, willow leaves, and
other vegetation being added to it as egg-laying begins. They also add their own down
feathers for softness and insulation from the cold winds. There can be 3 – 5 eggs found in a
clutch after an incubation period of 23 – 24 days, with only one brood every breeding
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Brants
The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Brants are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
If you love the Brant you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Brant Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Brant is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Brant. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders For Brant
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Brant
There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.