Greylag Goose

Anser Anser

Species Information

The greylag geese at Chew Valley enjoy a relaxing life on our big pond, they especially enjoy it when visitors feed them!

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This breed of goose is the commonest native goose in the UK, but are also found across Europe. They are found near to water sources, namely reservoirs, lakes, and river valleys, as well as gravel pits.

Greylag’s are the largest, bulkiest wild geese in the Europe. They have a greyish brown and white mottled and barred plumage which makes their more brightly coloured orange bill and pink legs stand out.

These large waterfowl tend to graze on farmland, meadows, and pasture where domestic livestock also graze. As well as grasses, they also feed upon leafy vegetation, berries, grains, and root crops.

About 8 years in the wild but up to 35 years in captivity.

Greylag geese are gregarious and sociable birds (outside of the breeding season), often found in groups. This is beneficial, as the more vigilance within a large group allows other geese to feed more freely without constantly being alert for potential predators. Although some remain resident in the same area, others are migratory, such as the geese found inhabiting in Iceland, who relocate to Scotland to breed.

During the breeding season, these geese become very aggressive and territorial, especially when they are nesting. The monogamous pair will commonly chase away other geese, large birds, and even humans away from its nesting site. Once the 3-6 precocial goslings have hatched, after an incubation period of 28 days, the geese become more social again and several families group together to form group protection against predatory threats.

Least Concern

Wild greylag geese are ancestors of most domesticated geese, commonly found on farms! They are also the bird which Konrad Lorenz, the famous ecologist, did his famous imprinting study on. Simply put, Lorenz’s findings suggested that birds imprint or ‘follow’ the first moving object they see!