Greylag Goose

Greylag Goose


Profile Greylag Goose     Literature page Greylag

[order] Anseriformes | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Anser anser | [UK] Greylag Goose | [FR] Oie cendrée | [DE] Graugans | [ES] Ánsar Común | [IT] Oca selvatica | [NL] Grauwe Gans

Grauwe Gans determination

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Different from outer geese basically uniform coloration of body and bill, his bill less black marks, sometimes black spots or blotches present on belly.
Juvenile generally less strongly patterned dorsally and overall has more mottled plumage.
Subspecies rubrirostris has pink bill and paler plumage.

Generally associated with water in open country, often with fringe vegetation or near grasslands.
Winters in swamps, lakes and coastal lagoons, or on farmland in open country.

This goose inhabits the temperate and boreal regions of Europe and Asia. The birds visiting the European Union belong more or less to five distinct populations (Scott & Rose). The first population comprises the sedentary birds of north-western Scotland. It has nearly doubled during the last 20 years and is currently amounting to 5250 individuals. The second population is breeding in Iceland and wintering in Scotland, northern England and Ireland. It increased from 25000 in 1950 to 100000 currently. The third population is breeding in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Western Germany the Netherlands and Belgium, and wintering from the Netherlands to Spain and Morocco. From 30000 at the end of the 1960’s, it increased to 200000 currently. The fourth population is breeding in north-eastern Sweden, Finland, the Baltic States and Central Europe, transiting in Italy and wintering in Tunisia and Algeria. It is estimated at 20000 individuals and seems to be quite stable. The fifth population is breeding in the Black Sea regions and Turkey. It reaches northern Greece, and can be estimated at 25000 individuals. Its trends are not well known, but it is probably declining

Various plants: roots, leaves, stems and seeds also fruits, grain, potatoes and sprouting cereals in winter,.
Forages mostly by grazing on dry land, but also on water, where it sometimes upends.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 920,000-970,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2002). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from]

Eggs are layed form March-April in loose colonies. Shallow nest of reed stems and grass, lined with down, among reedbeds, on ground or in trees. The Clutch size is 4-6 eggs and incubation lasts 27-28 days. Chicks have brownish olive down yellow below. This Goose reaches sexual maturity in 3 years. Although greylag geese Anser anser establish long-term monogamous pairbonds, some of the existing pairs do split up (divorce) and new pairs are formed during the annual spring mating period.

During the incubation period the gander stays close to the nest, and when the goslings a few days old leave the nest they are cared for by both parents, at this time small family groups may be formed. The gander will aggressively protect goslings and nest and an intruder will be met by hissing and threatening attitudes or may be attacked.

A few populations sedentary but most birds move southwards to winter in traditional sites at lower latitudes; many European birds follow French coast and concentrate in large numbers, up to 80,000 in Dec/Jan, in Donana marshes, SW Spain. Irregular occurrences often depend on extent of icing during particular winter.


  1. Measurements
  2. spanwidth min.: 149 cm
  3. spanwidth max.: 168 cm
  4. size min.: 74 cm
  5. size max.: 84 cm
  6. Breeding
  7. incubation min.: 27 days
  8. incubation max.: 28 days
  9. fledging min.: 50 days
  10. fledging max.: 60 days
  11. broods 1
  12. eggs min.: 4
  13. eggs max.: 8
  14. Conservation Status
  15. Grauwe Gans status Least Concern


  1. Anser anser rubrirostris
  2. ec Europe to China
  3. Anser anser anser
  4. n and c Europe
  5. Anser anser
  6. EU c, w
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