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Conservation status: Least concern
| Western Greylag Goose (Anser anser anser)|
Western Greylag Goose (Anser anser anser)
| Anser anser|
It was in pre-Linnean times known as the Wild Goose ("Anser ferus"). This species is the ancestor of domesticated geese in Europe and North America. Flocks of feral birds derived from domesticated birds are widespread.
The Greylag Goose is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.
The Greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the grey Anser geese. It has a rotund, bulky body, a thick and long neck, and a large head and bill. It has pink legs and feet, and an orange or pink bill. It is Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A long with a wing length of Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A. It has a tail Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A, a bill Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A long, and a tarsus Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A. It weighs Template:Convert/toTemplate:Convert/test/A. Males are generally larger than females, more so in the eastern subspecies rubirostris.
The plumage of the Greylag Goose is greyish-brown, with a darker head and paler belly with variable black spots. Its plumage is patterned by the pale fringes of its feathers. It has a white line bordering its upper flanks. Its coverts are lightly coloured, contrasting with its darker flight feathers. Juveniles differ mostly in their lack of a black-speckled belly.
It has a loud cackling call, kiYAAA-ga-ga, like the domestic goose.
Distribution and habitat Edit
This species is found throughout the Old World, apparently breeding where suitable localities are to be found in many European countries, although it no longer breeds in southwestern Europe. Eastwards it extends across Asia to China. In North America there are both feral domestic geese, which are similar to greylags, and occasional vagrants.
In Great Britain their numbers have declined as a breeding bird, retreating north to breed wild only in the Outer Hebrides and the northern mainland of Scotland. However during the 20th century, feral populations have been established elsewhere, and they have now re-colonised much of England. The breeding habitat is a variety of wetlands including marshes, lakes, and damp heather moors.
In Norway, the number of greylag geese is estimated to have increased three- to fivefold during the last 15–20 years. As a consequence, farmers' problems caused by goose grazing on farmland has increased considerably. This problem is also evident for the pink-footed goose.
The geese are migratory, moving south or west in winter, but Scottish breeders, some other populations in northwestern Europe, and feral flocks are largely resident. This species is one of the last to migrate, and the "lag" portion of its name is said to derive from this lagging behind other geese.
Literature cited Edit
- BirdLife International (2009). Anser anser. 2009.2 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
- Johnsgard, Paul A. (1978). Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World, Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.
- Lorenz, Konrad Z. (1991). Here Am I—Where Are You? The Behavior of the Greylag Goose, translated by Robert D. Martin, Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
- Madge, Steve (1988). Waterfowl: an Identification Guide to the Ducks, Geese, and Swans of the World, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
- RSPB A to Z of UK Birds
- Greylag Goose videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection
- Confusing Domestic Geese - An article about Greylag geese in North America, with photos
- the Greylag Goose in the Oostvaardersplassen - An article about the Greylag Goose population in nature reserve Oostvaardersplassen, the Netherlands
- Greylag Goose pictures Wildlife Greylag Goose photos- adult with nestlings and voice
- Strong increase in the number of greylag goose in Norway (PDF, in Norwegian, by the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research)
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