Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Common over large parts of Svalbard, but most numerous in the parts of west Spitsbergen with most vegetation. Most often seen in small flocks, but can occur in large flocks at favourable stopover sites shortly after arrival in spring and during moulting. The population is growing and now consists of more than 33,000 birds.
Features: 58-70 cm. ♂=♀. Easily recognizable with its contrasting black and white plumage. The male (ca. 1.8 kg) is slightly larger than the female (ca. 1.5 kg). The young resemble the adults when fully fledged. The downy young are pale grey. Often calls in flight with a repeated one-syllable «ka» which can sound like barking. A noisy cackling when large flocks take flight.
Breeding: Breeds mainly in colonies on islands and in cliffs, inaccessible to the arctic fox. The eggs are laid in a hollow and lined with dirty-white down and remains of plants. Often much excrement at the nest hollow. Much-used nest hollows are surrounded by rich vegetation. A very scarce breeding species on Bjørnøya.