Brant

Hey guys, welcome back! Today we talk about Brant. No, not that preppy trust fund kid that played lacrosse at the private school near your high school, I mean the goose! Brant (or Brent as they’re called in Eurasian) are smallish, short necked, short billed geese that stick to the ocean shore when visiting the continental U.S. in the winter. They summer in the high tundra, near, and within, the Arctic Circle. No wonder the one pictured looks perfectly comfortable (it was in the single digits that day. My camera, not to mention my hands, weren’t happy.)

Brant were a bird that I had to look up to see what they were before I really got into birding. Winters in NYC are just filled with Brant. Head to Randall’s Island in January and you’ll see hundreds. I first encountered them in Manhattan’s Battery Park City in late winter/early spring. I saw all these birds on a lawn, and at first I was like “oh a bunch of Canada Geese.” Then I noticed the lack of that large white patch the Canada Goose has, and I was baffled. I went home, powered up the interwebs and found it. Brant! They became a common bird for me when I lived in NYC. They rarely stray inland. They must prefer saltwater. I’d see hundred on Randall’s Island, as I’ve mentioned, but in Central Park, not 2 miles away, none. Ever. I’m sure at some point in history one or two (or more) have shown up in the Park, but as common as they are in the city itself, they’re rare for Central Park.

Brant2
Brant, Randall’s Island, NY

They look very similar to the Canada Goose in coloration, but lack the white face spot, and instead have a faint white “collar” on their neck. There are two color variations, that at one time were considered different species: the Atlantic (which winters along the Atlantic coast, shockingly) and has a white belly, and the “black” which has a dark grey/black belly and winters along the Pacific Coast. Brant are a good example of a bird that was so common where I lived that I didn’t realize how rare they really are away from the coast. Guess I’m lucky to have seen them. Next up, a bird that looks kind of like a duck, sort of, if you squint maybe? Well, they swim on the water like ducks, next time is our first Grebe! See you all then!

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