Black Geese (Branta) Identification

Black Geese belong to the Branta genus and include about six species including the Barnacle Goose, Brent Goose, Cackling Goose, Canada Goose, Hawaiian Goose, and Red-breasted Goose.

Black Geese (Branta) all have prominent areas of black in their plumage. Their legs and feet are black or dark grey, they have black beaks and large areas of black on their head and neck.

Click on the photographs to enlarge them or if you click on the name of the goose then it will take you to another page with information, more photos, and sometimes a video of that particular goose.

Black Geese (Branta)| Grey Geese (Anser)| White Geese (Chen)| All types of Geese.

Click to enlarge Barnacle Goose
(Branta Leucopsis)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Brent Goose
(Branta Bernicla)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Cackling Goose
(Branta Hutchinsii)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Click to enlarge Canada Goose
(Branta Canadensis)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Hawaiian Goose
(Branta Sandvicensis)
Photo: Dave Key
Click to enlarge Red-breasted Goose
(Branta Ruficollis)
Photo: Dave Key

Barnacle Goose: The Barnacle Goose has a creamy-white face with a black streak from the beak to the eye, and glossy black crown, neck, and breast. The back and wings are dark silver-grey, with black and white bars, with paler grey-white underparts, and white belly. The small delicate beak is black. Both sexes are alike.
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Brent Goose: The small Brent Goose has a black head, neck and upper-breast, with white markings or collar around the neck, short black beak, upperparts are greyish-brown, tail-coverts and sides of rump are white, underparts are pale brownish-grey or whitish, flight feathers and short tail are black, and the legs and feet are black. Both sexes are alike with the female being smaller.
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Cackling Goose: The Cackling Goose is very similar in appearance to the Canada Goose and it can be very hard to tell the two apart. Generally the Cackling Goose is smaller although the various sub-species do vary in size, the beak appears to be more stubby, the neck is slightly shorter, and their call is higher pitched. It has a black head and neck with a white chinstrap, light-brown breast, sometimes a white neck-ring, a grey-brown back, underparts from belly to tail are whitish, and the stubby beak and legs are black. Both sexes are alike with the male usually slightly larger.
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Canada Goose: The Canada Goose has a black crown, front of head, and neck, with distinctive white cheek patches, and chinstrap, light creamy-brown breast, grey-brown back, underparts from belly to tail are whitish, and the beak and legs are black. Both sexes are alike with the male usually slightly larger. It is very similar in appearance to the Cackling Goose.
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Hawaiian Goose: The Hawaiian Goose has a black crown, black on the front of the face, black chin, buff cheeks, a heavily furrowed neck, and dark ring at base of the neck. The body is grey-brown with upperparts having barred appearance, rump and tail are black. Eyes, beak and legs are black. Both sexes are alike.
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Red-breasted Goose: The Red-Breasted Goose has dark sooty black upperparts, neck, face, and throat with white patches between the eye & beak, white stripes behind the eye & neck, white band encircling the forebody, and distinctive chestnut-red on cheeks, foreneck, and breast. Tail coverts are white and the tail black. Legs, feet, and beak are grey-black. Both sexes look similar.
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