The Red-throated Goose is a small, slender waterfowl belonging to the family of duck birds. Outwardly, the bird is very similar to a small goose. The bird has a very bright color of the breast and the lower part of the bird’s head is colored brown-red, the wings of the abdomen and tail have a contrasting black and white color. It is quite difficult to meet this bird in the wild, since the species is very rare and there are extremely few birds left in nature. They usually nest in the tundra.
Origin of the species and description
Branta ruficollis (Red-breasted goose) is a bird belonging to the order Anseriformes, family Anatidae, genus goose. The order of anseriform birds, to which goose gooses belong, is very ancient. The first anseriformes inhabited the earth at the end of the Cretaceous period or at the beginning of the Paleocene of the Cenozoic era.
The earliest fossils found in America, New Jersey, are about 50 million years old. The belonging of an ancient bird to the order Anseriformes was determined by the state of the bird’s wing. The spread of anseriform birds around the world presumably began from one continent in the southern hemisphere of the earth, over time, birds began to develop more and more new territories. The species Branta ruficollis was first described by the German naturalist Peter Simon Pallas in 1769.
Video: Red-throated Goose
The main features of the bird include a bright color, and a rather short beak. Goose are small birds with a slender body. On the head and chest of the bird, the feathers are painted in a bright, red-brown color. On the back, wings and tail, the color is black and white. The bird’s head is small, unlike other geese, red-breasted geese have a large, thick neck and a very short beak. In size, the goose of this species is slightly smaller than the black goose, but larger than the goose of other species. Red-breasted gooses are flocking migratory birds, they are very hardy and able to fly long distances.
Appearance and features
Birds of this species are almost impossible to confuse with other waterfowl due to their unusual color. Title » Red-throated» the bird received because of the bright brown-red plumage on the neck, chest and cheeks. On the top of the head, back, wings, plumage is black. There are white stripes on the sides, head and undertail. There is a bright white spot near the bird’s beak. Males and females have a similar color and externally it is difficult to distinguish a male from a female. Juveniles are colored in the same way. like adult birds, but the coloration is duller. There is no plumage on the limbs. The beak is black or dark brown short. The eyes are small, the iris is brown.
Goose of this species are small birds, the body length from head to tail is 52-57 cm, the wingspan is about 115-127 cm. The weight of an adult is 1.4-1.6 kg. Birds fly fast and well, have a nimble, restless character. During the flight, a flock can make unexpected turns, birds can gather and, as it were, cuddle together, forming a kind of ball in the air, and then fly apart again in different directions. Goose are excellent swimmers and can dive. When lowered into the water, they emit a loud cackle. Very sociable, constantly communicate with each other.
Vocalization. Goose of this species emit two-syllable loud cackles, sometimes similar to cackling. Most often, sounds are heard that resemble the sound & # 171; gvyy, givyy & # 187;. At a time when the bird feels danger, in order to scare the opponent, the goose can hiss loudly.
Interesting fact: Red-breasted gooses are real long-livers among birds, under good conditions, birds can live for about 40 years.
Where does the red-breasted goose live?
The habitat of red-breasted geese is quite limited. Birds live in the tundra from Yamal to the Khatanga Bay and the valley of the Popigai River. The main part of the population nests on the Taimyr Peninsula and inhabits the Upper Taimyr and Pyasana rivers. And also these birds can be found on a small section of the Yuribey River near Lake Yaroto.
Like all migratory birds, red-breasted goose go to warmer climes for the winter. Birds like to winter on the western shores of the Black Sea and the Danube. The birds leave for the winter at the end of September. Ornithologists have even studied the migration route of these birds. During migration, birds fly over the Ural ridge in the valleys of the nearest rivers, then the birds, reaching Kazakhstan, make a turn to the west, flying over the steppe and wastelands, the Caspian lowland, fly over Ukraine and remain to winter on the shores of the Black Sea and the Danube.
During migration, birds make stops in order to rest and gain strength. The flock makes its main stops near the Arctic Circle at the Ob floods, in the north of Khanty-Mansiysk, in the steppe and on the Tobol wastelands in the Manych river valleys, in Rostov and Stavropol. During the nesting period, birds settle in the tundra, forest-tundra in wastelands. For life, they choose flat areas located near a reservoir, they can settle on cliffs and ravines near rivers.
Now you know where the red-throated goose is found. Let’s see what this bird eats.
What does the red-breasted goose eat?
Goose are herbivorous birds and feed exclusively on plant foods.
The diet of red-breasted goose includes:
- leaves and shoots of plants;
- cotton grass;
- bedstraw seeds;
- ramson bulbs and leaves;
- wheat ;
In nesting sites, birds feed mainly on the leaves and rhizomes of plants that grow in nesting sites. This is mainly sedge, horsetail, narrow-leaved cotton grass. I must say that the diet is rather meager, because in the steppe you will not find a lot of herbs. Birds and berries peck at the fruits they come across.
In winter, birds usually live on lawns and pastures, fields sown with winter crops. At the same time, birds peck at grains, young leaves and roots of plants. Birds are eaten mainly during the wintering period in the wintering areas, the diet of birds is much more diverse than in the nesting areas. During migration, birds feed on plants that grow in their stopping places, mainly sedge, clover, lungwort, horsetail and many other plant species. Chicks and juveniles feed on soft grass, leaves and plant seeds, while chicks, hiding from predators together, live with their parents in grass thickets until they learn to fly.
Peculiarities of character and lifestyle
Goose of this species are typical migratory birds. Wintering in birds takes place on the shores of the Black Sea and on the Danube. Mostly in Bulgaria and Romania. Birds fly away for wintering in the last days of September, in the spring they return to their nesting places in early June. Unlike geese and other birds, geese during migrations do not fly in large flocks, but move in colonies of 5 to 20 pairs. Birds arrive at the nesting site in pairs formed during the winter. Red-breasted gooses like to settle on the steep banks of reservoirs, in the steppe, forest-steppe, valleys near rivers. Upon arrival, the birds immediately begin to build nests.
Interesting fact: Goose are quite intelligent birds, they build their nests next to the nests of large birds of prey such as the peregrine falcon, snowy owl or buzzards.
Birds of prey protect their nest from various predatory mammals (arctic foxes, foxes, wolves and others), while the nest of geese also remains out of reach of enemies. Such a neighborhood is the only way to raise chicks. Even settling on steep and dangerous slopes, goose nests are always under threat, so the birds try not to take risks and find a good neighbor.
Goose are active during the daytime. At night, birds rest on the water or in nests. Birds get their food near the nest, or near the reservoir. In a flock, the birds are very sociable. The social structure is developed, birds live in pairs at the nesting site, and gather in small flocks during the winter. There are usually no conflicts between birds.
Birds treat a man very carefully, when a man tries to approach the nest, the female lets him in and then tries to fly away unnoticed. At the same time, the male joins her, the couple flies around the nest, and makes loud noises trying to drive the person away. Sometimes geese learn about the approach of a predator or a person is notified in advance of this by a predator-defender. In recent years, when the population was in danger of extinction, these birds began to be kept and bred in various nurseries and zoos. In captivity, the birds feel good and breed successfully.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Red-breasted goose reach sexual maturity by 3-4 years. Birds arrive at nesting sites in previously formed pairs; upon arrival at the nesting site, they immediately begin to build nests. The nest is built in a deepening of the slope, filled with stalks of cereal crops and washed with a layer of fluff. The size of the nest is about 20 cm in diameter, the depth of the nest is up to 8 cm.
Before mating, the birds have quite interesting mating games, the birds swim in a circle, immerse their beaks together in the water, make various sounds. Before mating, the male assumes an upright posture with spread wings and overtakes the female. After mating, the birds fluff their tails, spread their wings to the sides and stretch out their long powerful necks, while bursting into their strange song.
After some time, the female lays 4 to 9 milky white eggs. The incubation of eggs lasts about 25 days, the eggs are incubated by the female, while the male is always nearby protecting the family and bringing food to the female. Chicks are born at the end of June, by the time the chicks appear, the parents begin to molt, and the parents lose the ability to fly for a while, so the whole family lives on the lawns, trying to hide in dense thickets of grass.
Often broods from different parents unite together, straying into a large flock of loudly squeaking guarded by adult birds. At the end of August, the juveniles begin to fly a little, and at the end of September, the juveniles fly away for the winter together with other birds.
Natural enemies of the red-breasted goose
The red-breasted goose in the wild has quite a lot of enemies, and without the protection of stronger birds of prey, it is very difficult for these anseriforms to survive.
The natural enemies of these birds are:
- arctic foxes;
- eagles and other predators.
Goose are very small birds, and it is quite difficult for them to protect themselves. If adult birds can run fast and fly, juveniles cannot defend themselves. In addition, adult birds during molting become very vulnerable, losing the ability to fly. Therefore, during the nesting period, birds try to be under the protection of a large feathered predator all the time, which, protecting its own nest, also protects the brood of geese.
Interesting fact: Because of their bright plumage, birds cannot it is good to hide, often a nest with a female sitting on it can be seen from afar, but not everything is so simple. Birds are often warned of danger long before the enemy appears, and may have time to fly away and take the cubs to safety.
However, the main enemy of the geese is still man and his activities. Despite the fact that hunting for geese of this species is prohibited, no one takes into account how many individuals are killed by poachers in a year. Previously, when the hunting of these birds was allowed, the geese were almost completely exterminated by hunting them. Another negative factor was the development of bird nesting sites by humans. Extraction from oil and gas nesting sites, construction of factories and structures.
Population and species status
Red-breasted goose are very rare birds. The species Branta ruficollis has the conservation status of a vulnerable species, a species that was on the verge of extinction. To date, this species is listed in the Red Book of Russia, and birds of this species are under protection. Trapping, as well as hunting for birds, is prohibited worldwide. In addition to the Red Book, this species is included in the Appendix to the Bonn Convention and Appendix 2 to the CIETES Convention, which guarantees a ban on trade in this bird species. All these measures were taken due to the fact that from the end of the 1950s to 1975, the population of the species sharply decreased by almost 40% and only 22-28 thousand adult birds remained from 50 thousand adult birds.
Over time, with the use of conservation measures, the population of the species has grown to 37 thousand adults. However, this figure is also quite low. Birds have nowhere to breed. Due to the arrival of man in the natural habitats of birds and climate change, nesting places are becoming less and less. Scientists argue that due to global warming, the area of the tundra is rapidly decreasing. Also, the number of samson falcons significantly affects the population of the species. Birds settle next to them and fall under their protection, with a decrease in the number of these predators, it becomes more and more difficult for geese to survive in the wild, and this also negatively affects the population.
To date, goose of this species are under protection and various protective measures are being taken for them. Part of the nesting sites is located in the zone of protected areas and reserves. It is forbidden to capture birds for zoos, hunting and selling birds throughout our country. The birds are bred in nurseries, where they successfully breed and are later released into the wild.
Red-breasted Goose Conservation
Human activity at one time almost destroyed the population of red-breasted geese, also helped to save these birds from complete destruction. After the introduction of a ban on hunting, trapping and selling birds, the population of the species began to gradually increase. Since 1926, ornithologists have been breeding these birds in captivity. For the first time, it was possible to grow a brood of these capricious birds in the famous Trust nursery, which is located in England. The first offspring of birds of this species in our country was first obtained in the Moscow Zoo in 1959. Today, birds successfully breed in nurseries and zoos, after which ornithologists adapt the chicks to the wild and release them into their natural habitats.
In the nesting places of these birds, reserves and nature protection zones have been created where birds can live and raise offspring in peace. Protected areas have also been established at the wintering grounds of birds. The entire bird population has been taken under control, and the population size, migration routes, the state of life of birds in nesting and wintering areas is controlled by ornithologists.
To preserve bird populations, we all need to take care of nature, try not to pollute the environment. Build treatment facilities at factories so that production waste does not enter the water and does not pollute the environment. Use alternative fuels. Try to recycle waste and recycle. These measures will help not only restore the population of geese, but also make life easier for all living creatures.
The red-throated goose is an amazingly beautiful bird. They are quite smart, they have their own ways of surviving in the wild, however, there are factors against which any means of protection are powerless such as climate change, poaching and the arrival of people in the natural habitats of birds. People are able to protect the red-breasted goose, and restore the population of these birds, let’s do it for future generations.