Thousands of barnacle geese spend the winter in Britain and Ireland before migrating to the Arctic to breed in the spring. There are three distinct breeding populations of barnacle geese and each also overwinter separately.
They often nest on ledges and rocky outcrops where their eggs are safe from predators like foxes. Upon hatching the goslings must then jump from these high nest sites. As the goslings are light and covered in down they are generally not harmed by this fall but many are taken by predators before they can follow their parents to the relative safety of the water.
As with all geese the sexes are very similar, although the gander (male) is normally slightly larger.
They are popular in waterfowl collections as they are a hardy, relatively small, bold and breed well. Nests are defended fiercely and the adults will use their beaks and wings to keep other birds and keepers away from the eggs.