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Home > About the Chesapeake > Exploring the Bay > Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl > Types of Waterfowl > Atlantic Brant
Atlantic Brant (Branta bernicla)
Atlantic Brant
Overview:

Smaller, chunkier relative of the Canada goose, 22” to 30” with an average wingspan of 46”. This species has a black head and neck with an inconspicuous white collar. The upper breast is a charcoal-brown, fading to off-white plumage on the belly and sides.

Habitat:

Shallow tidal inlets and mudflats in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

Range:

Brant of the Atlantic Flyway typically breed in the Canadian Arctic, migrating south in autumn to the Chesapeake region and the Carolinas.

Diet:

Seaweed, eelgrass, occasionally grain.

Call:

Constant low “ronk.” Listen to a sample (Requires RealPlayer)

Cool Facts:

Brant have been clocked at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour, significantly faster than Canada geese can fly. In the air they form large, noisy, irregular flocks that continually change shape as the birds travel across the sky. Once a favorite of hunters, brant today have become less popular as food because their favored eelgrass is in short supply. Many now feed heavily on the seaweed called “sea lettuce” (Ulva), which gives the meat a distinct “flavor of the sea.”

The decoy pictured is from the collection of the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art and was photographed by Middleton Evans. Waterfowl sounds are courtesy of the Macaulay Lab of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


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