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Taiga Bean Goose

From Opus

A. f. middendorffiPhoto © by Ayuwat JearwattanakanokBeppu, Oita, Japan, 31 October 2010
A. f. middendorffi
Photo © by Ayuwat Jearwattanakanok
Beppu, Oita, Japan, 31 October 2010
Anser fabalis

Includes Middendorff's Goose


[edit] Identification

[edit] Taiga form (A. f. fabilis)

A. f. fabilisPhoto © by aritervoKajaani, Finland, 16 August 2007
A. f. fabilis
Photo © by aritervo
Kajaani, Finland, 16 August 2007
  • Dark goose with a long neck
  • Head, neck, and back are dark brownish
    • Lightest on the back
  • Underside is lighter
  • Bill is quite long
    • Very variable with regards to extent of black and orange; some extensively orange with little black
    • Orange often found on the distal part and almost always more extensive than in Tundra Bean Goose
  • May be a narrow white edge between bill and feathers on the head, especially above the bill

In flight, tail pattern is conspicuous: narrow white terminal band, broader black band, and the innermost part white. Vent and undertail coverts white. Both upper and lower sides of wings are dark, without much contrast between coverts and primaries/secondaries.

[edit] Middendorff's Goose

The subspecies A. f. middendorffii has recently been proposed for splitting from this species[2][3].

  • Bill is much larger than the other two, often looking like a direct continuation of the crown.
  • Longest neck
A. f. middendorffiPhoto © by Peter de HaasUpo wetland Korea, 20 February 2007
A. f. middendorffi
Photo © by Peter de Haas
Upo wetland Korea, 20 February 2007

Juveniles of both subspecies are more scaly on the back and always lack any white at the base of the bill.

[edit] Similar species

Tundra Bean Goose, formerly considered a subspecies, is similar but has a shorter and heavier neck, a shorter bill, rarely more than a small orange spot near the tip of the bill which is always sharply defined.

[edit] Distribution

Breeds in the taiga (boreal forests) of Scandinavia east to Russia and Siberia (east of Lake Baikal).

In northern Europe, subspecies A. f. fabilis winters in southern Sweden, Denmark, and northern Poland west to northeastern Netherlands, generally to the north and east of where Tundra Bean Goose winters. In Britain, two small populations of Taiga Bean Goose regularly winter in the Falkirk area of Scotland, and at Buckenham Marshes (by Strumpshaw Fen) in southeast Norfolk, England. Overall, it is quite rare compared to Tundra Bean Goose; in the Netherlands, wintering numbers are around 500-1000, rising to 3,500 in severe winters (when birds from further northeast are pushed southwest), compared to around 30,000 Tundra Bean Geese.

Asian populations (A. f. johanseni and A. f. middendorffii) winter locally in Kazakhstan in central Asia, and more widely in central and eastern China, South Korea, and Japan.

[edit] Taxonomy

Three subspecies are accepted[1]:

  • A. f. fabilis: northern forest zone (taiga) west of the Urals
  • A. f. johanseni: northern forest zone (taiga) east of the Urals to Lake Baikal (included in A. f. middendorffii by some authorities)
  • A. f. middendorffii: northern forest zone (taiga) east of johanseni

In the past considered conspecific with Tundra Bean Goose and named as just Bean Goose Anser fabalis. Pink-footed Goose was also sometimes included in Bean Goose by some authors. Carboneras & Kirwan (2019) make a good case for the traditional approach of only one species, an approach also adopted by H&M4. [4][5]

[edit] Habitat

Breeds in humid openings in northern forest, especially birch and coniferous forests. Winters in agricultural areas, mostly grassy fields.

[edit] Behaviour

[edit] Diet

In winter, it grazes in crops such as grass, cereals and potatoes; bean field stubbles were particularly liked by the fabilis form giving rise to its name. Middendorff's Goose is particularly fond of marshes.

[edit] Vocalisation

Listen in an external program

[edit] References

  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from
  2. Ruokonen, M., Litvin, K., & Aarvak, T. (2008). Taxonomy of the bean goose – pink-footed goose. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 48: 554–562 doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.038
  3. Birdforum thread discussing the taxonomy of the Bean Goose complex including the possibility of splitting it in three species.
  4. Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Bean Goose (Anser fabalis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 March 2019).
  5. Christidis et al. 2018. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, version 4.1 (Downloadable checklist). Accessed from

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