Bird Database


(Branta bernicla)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance




Prey declines, Pollution, Disease

Conservation Actions

Manage waterfowl harvest


(Branta bernicla)

Like most geese, Brant breed in the high arctic tundra and only occur in New Hampshire during migration. This is a saltwater species outside the breeding season and is thus most likely to be encountered along the coast, where small flocks may be seen in sheltered coves or flying along the shoreline. Inland records do exist, many of which involve birders recognizing the species’ distinctive guttural rolling honking – quite unlike that of Canada Geese – as a flock migrates overhead in the dark. Although there are occasional winter reports, most wintering birds in the Northeast occur from Massachusetts to Chesapeake Bay.

During the non-breeding season, Brant are closely associated with eelgrass, a marine flowering plant (it resembles terrestrial grasses but is not closely related to them). A die-off of eelgrass in the 1930s caused major declines in Brant along the Atlantic Coast, and degradation of Great Bay in the late 20th century is suspected in the species’ disappearance from that part of New Hampshire. Threats to eelgrass – and thus to Brant – include siltation, excessive nutrient or freshwater inputs to estuaries, and activities that disturb the substrate where this important plant grows. In addition to eelgrass, Brant feed on other aquatic plants and algae, which the geese obtain by grazing or tipping up in shallow water. When eating algae they can also be seen walking on rocks in the intertidal zone. More recently they have taken to grazing on golf courses and visiting agricultural areas in some parts of the winter range.

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count