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Pacific Brant

Branta bernicla nigricans
BrantCharging Peters 512
Pacific brant are small dark geese that migrate long distances to their primary wintering areas in coastal Mexico which are typically characterized by an abundance of sea grasses, (especially eelgrass, Zostera maritima) and certain marine algae.  Eelgrass is the principal forage for Pacific brant and other herbivorous waterfowl such as wigeon.  Each spring, eelgrass beds in Humboldt Bay attract large flocks of brant along the Pacific coast as the bird’s stopover during their migration from southern wintering sites to breeding grounds in the Arctic. Humboldt Bay NWR is the southernmost in a chain of National Wildlife Refuges in the United States that provide habitat for most of the world’s population of Pacific brant. It is estimated that over 40 percent of the Pacific Flyway population of brant use Humboldt Bay as a migratory stopover in the spring, primarily to utilize the eelgrass resource. The bay’s extensive eelgrass beds make it the most important Pacific brant wintering and migration site in California and Oregon. The primary wintering areas for these geese is now the coastal lagoons in Baja and Pacific coastal Mexico. Peak counts of spring staging Pacific brant in Humboldt Bay were 20,000–40,000 from 1950–1977, which declined to 10,000–15,000 in the 1980s, but increased to 20,000–25,000 in the late 1990s. It is not uncommon for more than 10,000 Pacific brant to be found on the South Bay alone from late February through mid-April of any given year. 

Facts About Pacific Brant

Brant Length: 22-26 inches

Brant Wingspan: 42-48 inches
Brant Weight: 2-5 pounds
Page Photo Credits — © Mike Peters
Last Updated: May 14, 2013
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