[order] Anseriformes | [family] Anatidae | [latin] Anser fabalis fabalis | [UK] Taiga Bean Goose | [FR] Oie des moissons | [DE] Saatgans | [ES] Ánsar Campestre | [IT] Oca granaiola | [NL] Taigarietgans

Taigarietgans determination

copyright: Neon Rosell

Averaging only slightly smaller than Greylag Goose but not so bulky, with less weight in the rear half of body. Large, tall, rather long-billed and long-necked, essentially brown goose, with very dark head and neck obvious in flight. At long range and in poor light, difficult to separate from other grey geese but noticeable length of dark head and neck, upright stance, and uniform upperwing in flight, characteristic. High head carriage, bulk, uniform dark plumage tone, lack of forewing contrast, rather long, deep orange-marked bill, and orange legs all diagnostic at closer ranges. Confusion with large, dark individuals of Pink-footed Goose possible, but Bean Goose never shows grey upperparts and differences in bare-part colours afford certain distinction of typical birds.

Nesting habitat includes the taiga and tundra zone, in particular the scrub ecotone. In Scandinavia, the geese nest inland at relatively high altitudes, up to 700 m. In winter, the geese traditionally occurred in the steppe zone/semi-arid zone, foraging on short grassy, so-called sodic-pasture, vegetation . In Hungary, Lesser White-fronted Geese feed predominantly in this habitat, using other types only when there is no steppe available. It was observed that the species uses pioneer vegetation at the bottom of recently-drained fishponds in the Hortobágy. Because of lack of recent knowledge about winter occurrence, present habitat usage is poorly known.

This goose inhabits tundra or taiga in northern Eurasia. The birds visiting the European Union belong to two clearly distinct populationspossibly valid species. The birds of the race fabalis are breeding in the taiga, from Sweden to the Urals, and winter mainly in Denmark and the Netherlands. A few hundreds of individuals reach England. This population is currently estimated at 80000 individuals, and seems to be increasing but decreasing following Huyskens (pers. comm.). The second population comprises the birds of the race rossicus, breeding in the tundra of northern Europe, from the Kola Peninsula to the Urals, and wintering in central Europe, Germany and the Netherlands. During very cold winters it is reaching France, northern Italy and Spain. This population is estimated at 300000 individuals, but its trends are not well known

Grasses, cereal grains, and other agricultural crops; mainly by grazing on arable and pastureland in winter. On breeding grounds, feeds on green parts of plants, flowers and fruits, seeds, and rootstocks.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km˛. It has a large global population estimated to be 800,000-840,000 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 birdlife.org]

Nests in low hummocks and banks free from snow and post-thaw flooding. often at base of tree or among bushes. Usually close to water but could be up to 1 km away. Normally well dispersed, though sometimes forming loose colonies. Previous year's nests re-used with new lining. The nest consists of low mound of grasses, dead leaves, moss, and other vegetation, with shallow cup lined with down, particularly after laying. Building: mostly by female, though male may help, using material within reach of nest. The clutch size is 4-6, sometimes 3 or up to 8, in one brood per season. Eggs probably laid at 24-hour intervals. after hatching the eggshells left in nest.
Incubation continues for 27-29 days and is performed by females and starts after the lat egg is laid. She covers eggs with down when she is leaving the nest. The young are hatching synchronous. The young are immediately Self-feeding. Both parents care for young in defending them against predators. When still very young the chickens are brooded by female at night.
The young fledge in about 40 days. Young remain with parents during the first autumn and winter, migrating with them in spring but will be independent before they return back to breeding grounds. Age of first breeding normally 3 years.

Migratory, winters mostly on coastal plains in NW and Central Europe and E Asia. Sporadically in more southern latitudes during cold winters.