This high-Arctic breeding small marine goose is black-headed and black-necked, with highly variable underparts, extensive white on the vent and undertail, and a partial white neck collar. Two distinct subspecies, which winter along the Atlantic ("hrota") and Pacific ("nigricans") coasts, were formerly treated as separate species. Atlantic adults are much paler below, with pale to medium gray lower breast and belly that contrasts sharply with the black neck and upper breast. The head, neck, and breast are black, and a narrow white necklace that wraps about one-half to two-thirds of the way around the foreneck.
Adults of the Pacific population, formerly referred to as "Black" Brant, are much darker below, with very little contrast between the black upper breast and the dark chocolate-brown lower breast and belly, with conspicuous white barring along the flanks. The white necklace on the Pacific form is broader and wraps almost completely around the neck. There is an intermediate population, often referred to as "Gray-bellied" Brant, which winters and nests at lower latitudes in the Pacific Northwest. Upperparts are dark gray-brown in all forms, darker on western birds.
Juveniles of all forms lack the white necklace and have whitish fringes on their wing coverts, which gives them a more scalloped look above than adult birds, which have uniform dark brown upperparts. Their underparts range from pale medium gray on Atlantic birds, to very dark with almost no contrast between the upper breast and the remainder of the underparts on Pacific birds.
Length: 56 (cm) Wingspan: 109 (cm)
A stuttering crrrr-onk.
Nests in salt marshes and estuaries. Winters on intertidal mudflats and sheltered coastal bays.
Nests in large colonies along with gulls, sometimes clustered around Snowy Owl nests. Along coastal migration routes, flies low over the water rather than high overhead like other geese.
Dabbles for eelgrass and other aquatic plants, occasionally grazes upland grasses and clover.
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