Red-breasted Goose Branta ruficollis


Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S. and Simmons, K.E.L. (eds). 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Volume 1: Non-passerines. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International, Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge, UK.

IUCN Red List criteria met and history
Red List criteria met
Critically Endangered Endangered Vulnerable
- - A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd

Red List history
Year Category Criteria
2016 Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd
2015 Vulnerable A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd
2012 Endangered A2bcd+3bcd+4bcd
2008 Endangered A2b,c,d; A3b,c,d; A4b,c,d
2007 Endangered
2006 Vulnerable
2004 Vulnerable
2000 Vulnerable
1996 Vulnerable
1994 Vulnerable
1988 Threatened
Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency does not normally occur in forest
Land-mass type Land-mass type - continent
Average mass -

Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 1,140,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 871,000 medium
Number of locations 6-10 -
Severely fragmented? no -
Population and trend
Value Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
Number of mature individuals good estimated 2013
Population trend decreasing medium suspected 1998-2008
Decline % (10 years/3 generations future) 30-49 - - -
Decline % (10 years/3 generations past and future) 30-49 - - -
Number of subpopulations 1 - - -
Percentage in largest subpopulation 100 - - -
Generation length (years) 10.9 - - -

Population justification: Coordinated censuses in January 2003, 2004 and 2005 resulted in total population estimates of 33,600, 52,800 and 32,100 individuals respectively. The geometric mean of these totals 38,500. Recalculating this including the 2006 count of c.34,000 gives a revised geometric mean of 37,000 individuals. However, total counts of 40,800 in spring 2008 (primarily as a result of a large count in Kalmykia), 44,300 the following winter (Cranswick et al. 2010) and a potential population count of 56,860 in autumn 2010 (Rozenfeld 2011a) lend further weight to the suggestion that counts in the mid 2000s might be partially incomplete because birds wintered away from the traditionally surveyed sites. In 2015, Wetlands International increased its global population estimate from c. 44,000 to c. 56,000 individuals (Wetlands International 2015).

Trend justification:

Variation in survey intensity and coverage historically makes determination of trends difficult. Following a count of 60,000 in the mid 1950s, totals rarely exceeded 20,000 until intensive winter surveys in the 1990s recorded over 70,000. Two counts of just under 90,000 in the late 1990s were considered accurate (Aarvak et al. 1996, D. Hulea in litt. 2003) and an increase since the 1970s. Coordinated winter counts were then initiated in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine since 1995, with at least one count in each winter month. Only around 30,000 were recorded in the early 2000s. It has been suggested that some birds may have been overlooked, wintering further east than expected (in eastern Ukraine or south-west Russia) where survey coverage was much less comprehensive or absent, though no new wintering sites have been found. Numbers recorded during winter surveys recovered slightly, with an average of 37,300 during the mid 2000s (S. Dereliev in litt. to Wetlands International 2005), but representing a decline of more than 50% since the late 1990s.

Counts during migration periods since 2008 have recorded larger numbers, e.g. 40,800 in spring 2008 in Kalmykia, 56,860 in autumn 2010 in Northern Kazakhstan (Rozenfeld 2011a) and c. 150,000 individuals in autumn 2012 (Rozenfeld et al. 2012). The use of such areas during migration potentially make survey efforts more effective, concentrating birds that may be widely dispersed during winter, though rapid turnover at sites during migration also presents potential problems of missing or double-counting birds; and differences in methods of generating population estimates may also be leading to the different estimates between migratory stopover points and wintering areas (N. Petkov in litt. 2016). In January 2013, c. 56,000 birds were counted in Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine (N. Petkov in litt. 2013), with nearly 54,000 in Bulgaria (Illiev and Petkov 2015); however post-January 2013 numbers in Bulgaria and Romania have failed to reach 30,000 individuals (E. Todorov in litt. 2015). These findings suggest that during milder winters birds may now winter farther east where survey effort is less comprehensive (Cranswick et al. 2012). Recent surveys also suggest that the species may be wintering farther west, with more than 2,000 wintering in Hungary (mainly Hortobágy National Park) in winter 2014-2015 (T. Zalai in litt. 2015). The recently published European Red List of Birds suggests that the European population is declining, but only slightly (BirdLife International 2015). Whilst migration counts suggest a recent increase, further corroboration is required to confirm an accurate current estimate.

Country/territory distribution
Country/Territory Presence Origin Resident Breeding Non-breeding Passage
Afghanistan extant uncertain yes
Armenia extant native yes yes
Austria extant native yes yes
Azerbaijan extant vagrant
Belarus extant vagrant
Belgium extant vagrant
Bosnia and Herzegovina extant vagrant
Bulgaria extant native yes
China (mainland) extant vagrant
Croatia extant native yes
Cyprus extant vagrant yes
Denmark extant vagrant yes
Egypt extant vagrant
Finland extant vagrant
France extant vagrant yes
Georgia extant vagrant
Germany extant vagrant yes
Greece extant native yes
Greenland (to Denmark) extant vagrant
Hungary extant vagrant yes
India extant vagrant
Iran, Islamic Republic of extant native yes
Iraq extant native yes
Ireland extant vagrant yes
Israel extant vagrant yes
Italy extant vagrant
Kazakhstan extant native yes
Kyrgyzstan extant uncertain yes
Latvia extant vagrant
Moldova extant native yes yes
Montenegro extant native yes
Netherlands extant vagrant
North Macedonia extant native yes
Norway extant vagrant
Poland extant vagrant
Romania extant native yes
Russia extant native yes yes yes
Russia (Asian) extant native yes
Russia (Central Asian) extant native yes yes
Russia (European) extant native yes yes
Serbia extant native yes
Slovakia extant vagrant yes
South Korea extant vagrant
Spain extant vagrant
Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands (to Norway) extant vagrant
Sweden extant vagrant
Syria extant uncertain yes
Tajikistan extant uncertain yes
Türkiye extant native yes
Turkmenistan extant uncertain yes
Ukraine extant native yes yes
United Kingdom extant vagrant
Uzbekistan extant uncertain yes yes

Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA)
Country/Territory IBA Name
Moldova Lower Prut River and Manta-Beleu Lake
Greece Evros delta
Russia (European) Kulaksay lowland
Russia (European) Vorono-Khoperski area
Russia (European) Shalkaro-Zhetykol'ski lake system
Russia (European) Moksha valley in vicinity of Temnikov
Russia (European) Dadynskiye lakes
Ukraine Karkinits'ka and Dzharylgats'ka bays
Ukraine Kugurluj and Kartal lakes
Ukraine Shagany-Alibej-Burnas lake-system
Ukraine Askania-Nova Biosphere Reserve
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Kozats'ki islands)
Ukraine Snake island
Ukraine Agricultural lands near Bilorets'ke (Chornozemne village)
Ukraine Kakhovs'ke reservoir (Energodar)
Ukraine Yagorlyts'ka and Tendrivs'ka Bays
Ukraine Chauda
Ukraine Khadzhybejs'kyj lyman
Ukraine Kytaj lake
Türkiye Saros Bay
Türkiye Terkos Basin
Iran, Islamic Republic of Lake Kobi
Iran, Islamic Republic of Miankaleh Peninsula and Gorgan Bay
Russia (European) Moksha flood-plain in vicinity of Krasnoslobodsk
Russia (European) Sarpinskaya lake-system
Russia (Asian) Trekhozerki lakes
Russia (Asian) Ulukhkol' lake
Russia (Asian) Terpyey-Tumus
Russia (Asian) Gusikha river basin and lower Balakhnya river
Russia (European) Novotroitskoye reservoir
Russia (European) Ptich'ye (Bird's) Lake
Russia (Central Asian) Mouth of the Uy river
Russia (Central Asian) Siverga lake
Russia (Central Asian) Makushinsky Zakaznik
Russia (Central Asian) Dvuob'ye
Russia (Central Asian) Lower Ob'
Kazakhstan Zharsor-Urkash Salt Lakes
Kazakhstan Naurzum State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan Irgiz-Turgay Lakes
Russia (Central Asian) Upper and Middle Yuribey
Russia (Central Asian) Pelymsky Tuman
Bulgaria Shabla Lake Complex
Bulgaria Durankulak Lake
Bulgaria Mandra-Poda complex
Bulgaria Atanasovsko Lake
Bulgaria Burgasko Lake
Bulgaria Kalimok Complex
Bulgaria Pozharevo Island
Bulgaria Svishtov-Belene Lowland
Bulgaria Kaliakra
Bulgaria Srebarna
Bulgaria Straldzha Complex
Kazakhstan Zhaltyr Lake
Kazakhstan Shaglyteniz Lake and marshes
Kazakhstan Sarykopa Lake System
Kazakhstan Kulykol-Taldykol Lake System
Kazakhstan Koybagar-Tyuntyugur Lake System
Kazakhstan Shoshkaly Lake System
Kazakhstan Kushmurun Lake
Russia (European) Kissyk area
Kazakhstan Aksuat Lake
Kazakhstan Bolshoy Kak Lake
Kazakhstan Sorbalyk-Maybalyk Lake System
Russia (European) Kurnikov liman
Kazakhstan Terenkol Lake
Kazakhstan Balykty Lake
Kazakhstan Maliy Kak Lake
Kazakhstan Zhylandy Lake
Russia (European) Southern part of Chograiski reservoir
Russia (European) Lysyi Liman lake and valley of Vostochniy Manych river
Kazakhstan Akzhan Lake
Kazakhstan Sulukol Lake
Russia (European) Manychstroi area
Kazakhstan Kamyshovoe-Zhamankol Lakes
Kazakhstan Sankebay Lakes
Russia (European) Kozinka lake and Baranikovski segment of Manych
Türkiye Tuz Lake
Türkiye Gediz Delta
Türkiye Büyükçekmece Lake
Russia (Central Asian) Atyazh lakes
Russia (Central Asian) Valley of the Yorkutayakha river
Russia (European) Kazachka
Romania Beştepe - Mahmudia
Romania Braţul Borcea
Romania Danube Delta
Romania Dunăre - Ostroave
Romania Iezerul Călăraşi
Romania Lake Brateş
Romania Lake Dunăreni
Romania Lake Oltina
Romania Limanu - Herghelia
Romania Lake Beibugeac (Plopu)
Romania Lake Techirghiol
Romania Balta Albă - Amara - Jirlău
Romania Lake Bugeac
Romania Dobrogei gorge
Romania Ciocăneşti - Dunăre
Romania Ianca - Plopul - Sărat
Romania Balta Mică a Brăilei
Romania Lake Fundata
Romania Lake Strachina
Romania Lake Tataru
Romania Black Sea
Romania Măxineni
Romania Lake Siutghiol
Romania Lake Taşaul
Kazakhstan Zhylandy Lake
Kazakhstan Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve
Kazakhstan Shagyrkol and Mamyrkol lakes
Kazakhstan Batpakkol lake
Iraq Dalmaj Marsh
Iraq Dukan Lake
Russia (Asian) Pura river basin
Azerbaijan Gizilagach State Reserve
Russia (European) Delta of the River Don
Russia (European) Islands in the western part of Lake Manych-Gudilo
Russia (European) Veselovskoye reservoir
Serbia Labudovo okno
Serbia Slano Kopovo
Serbia Srebrno jezero - Golubac

Habitats & altitude
Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Artificial/Terrestrial Arable Land major non-breeding
Artificial/Terrestrial Pastureland marginal non-breeding
Grassland Temperate major non-breeding
Grassland Tundra major breeding
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Marshes/Pools (under 8ha) suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Rivers/Streams/Creeks (includes waterfalls) unset breeding
Altitude   Occasional altitudinal limits  

Threats & impact
Threat (level 1) Threat (level 2) Impact and Stresses
Biological resource use Fishing & harvesting aquatic resources - Unintentional effects: (subsistence/small scale) [harvest] Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Minority (<50%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 4
Species disturbance
Biological resource use Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals - Unintentional effects (species is not the target) Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species mortality
Climate change & severe weather Habitat shifting & alteration Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Rapid Declines Low Impact: 5
Ecosystem degradation
Energy production & mining Oil & gas drilling Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species disturbance, Ecosystem degradation, Ecosystem conversion
Energy production & mining Renewable energy Timing Scope Severity Impact
Future Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Low Impact: 4
Species mortality
Human intrusions & disturbance Recreational activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Negligible declines Low Impact: 5
Species disturbance
Human intrusions & disturbance Work & other activities Timing Scope Severity Impact
Ongoing Majority (50-90%) Slow, Significant Declines Medium Impact: 6
Species disturbance

Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food - human - - non-trivial recent
Pets/display animals, horticulture - - non-trivial recent
Sport hunting/specimen collecting - - non-trivial recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Branta ruficollis. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 26/09/2023.