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Bird name:

Greylag Goose

Anser anser




Geese and Ducks (Anatidae)





Euring 5

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Breeding Location:

Lakes, Tundra, Marshes, Reedbeds

Breeding Type:

Monogamous, Semicolonial, Biparental

Egg Colour:

Fine granular texture and creamy colour.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 12

Incubation Days:

27 - 30

Egg Incubator:


Nest Material:

Scrape on ground lined with vegetation; in wet areas a mound of plant material lined with down.

Nest Location:

Among reedbeds, on the ground, in or at the base of trees. May also be under bushes, in sheltered hollows on isolated wooded islands on lakes or along coasts, as well as on rafts of vegetation in rivers.


Most migrate


Greylag Goose: Goose with grey-brown upperparts and paler grey underparts with white belly and vent. Pink-orange bill, pale streaking on neck, pale, faint barring below, pale edging to feathers on back and wings. Mostly white tail and blue-grey on upperwings in flight. Dull pink legs and feet. Sexes similar. Juvenile like adult but faint mottling instead of barring on underparts and pale edging to feathers on back and wings that impart a scaly appearance.

Range and Habitat

Greylag Goose: Resident breeder and winter visitor in the UK & Ireland. In coastal and lowland England feral flocks can be seen year round. Wild birds breed in northern Scotland and winter in lowland Scotland and coastal Ireland. They can be seen from autumn until spring on marshes, wet grasslands, and lakes.

Breeding and Nesting

Greylag Goose: Loose colonies; monogamous with strong, permanent pair-bonds but some divorce. Female builds shallow nest on ground, in reeds under bush, or on vegetation raft. Nests are built of grasses and reeds, lined with down. Female incubates eggs; male guards. Both care for young.

Foraging and Feeding

Greylag Goose: Primarily grazes on grasses and marsh vegetation, eating rhizomes, roots, tubers, shoots, leaves, stems, and seeds. Also eats agricultural grain and root crops such as potatoes, carrots, and turnips; will eat small aquatic animals.


Greylag Goose: A deep, honking "aahng-ahng-ung" when in flight.

Similar Species

Greylag Goose: The Pink-footed Goose has a darker bill, a smaller and darker head and a shorter neck. It also has a more buff-coloured breast and is smaller. The Bean Goose has darker black patches on the bill, a darker head, and is browner in colour overall.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The ventral part of the bird, or the area between the flanks on each side and the crissum and breast. Flight muscles are located between the belly and the breast.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
4 and 6 letter alpha codesX

The four letter common name alpha code is is derived from the first two letters of the common first name and the first two letters of common last name. The six letter species name alpha code is derived from the first three letters of the scientific name (genus) and the first three letters of the scientific name (species). See (1) below for the rules used to create the codes..

Four-letter (for English common names) and six-letter (for scientific names) species alpha codes were developed by Pyle and DeSante (2003, North American Bird-Bander 28:64-79) to reflect A.O.U. taxonomy and nomenclature (A.O.U. 1998) as modified by Supplements 42 (Auk 117:847-858, 2000) and 43 (Auk 119:897-906, 2002). The list has been updated by Pyle and DeSante to reflect changes reported by the A.O.U from 2003 through 2006.


The Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) was established in the mid-1990 s as a cooperative project among several federal agencies to improve and expand upon taxonomic data (known as the NODC Taxonomic Code) maintained by the National Oceanographic Data Center (NODC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

To find the ITIS page for a bird species go to the ITIS web site advanced search and report page at You can enter the TSN or the common name of the bird. It will return the ITIS page for that bird. Another way to obtain the ITIS page is to use the Google search engine. Enter the string ITIS followed by the taxonomic ID, for example "ITIS 178041" will return the page for the Allen's Hummingbird.

Parts of a Standing birdX
Head Feathers and MarkingsX
Parts of a Flying birdX