Finding & Photographing The Pink Footed Goose

Eschenbach share some top tips for finding and photographing the pink footed goose.

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pink footed goose

The pink-footed goose is the biggest and most common species of goose in the Svalbard archipelago. The pink-footed goose feels at home in the Arctic tundra.

Appearance

The pink-footed goose is about 70 centimetres long and weighs about 3 kilograms. The males are always larger and heavier than the females but their plumage is similar. Both have a grey-brown back, cream white chest and belly and a brown head. The eyes are dark and the beak is short with a pink band. This short and strong beak is an important characteristic because it helps differentiate the pink-footed goose from an extremely similar species: the bean goose. The pink-footed goose even used to be regarded as a subspecies of the bean goose. Another distinguishing feature - as its name implies, the pink-footed goose has pink feet while the bean goose has orange feet.

 

Distribution

During the breeding season, the pink-footed goose can mainly be found in Greenland, Iceland and Spitsbergen in the Svalbard archipelago. During winter, it does not give up the cold areas, but only moves to the coastal regions of the Netherlands, Great Britain and Denmark.

Pink-footed geese breed in open tundra. They enjoy rocky landscape with only a few large plants. Swamps and lakes created by the melting of glaciers are also an option. In Iceland, they even populate lava fields. In their winter quarters, pink-footed geese usually settle on meadows and pastures. There they feed on herbs and grasses, but they also like to plunder farmers’ crops, which does not make them the most popular guests.

 

Behaviour and interesting facts

The pink-footed goose is a sociable bird. This applies not only to the migration into the various habitats, but also to the breeding grounds. They often form small colonies on cliffs close to glaciers and river islands where fox and others predators cannot reach them.

At the beginning of June, the female lays three to seven white eggs and then incubates them for almost four weeks. The male stays close to protect its partner and offspring. The young are nidifugous and start making small exploration tours from the first days. However, they will only be able to fly after two months. During this time the parents are also unable to fly because they lose their flight feathers during the moulting process.

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