(2259) Branta ruficollis.
The Red-breasted Goose.
Anser ruficollis Pallas, Spicil. Zool., fasc. 6, p. 31, pi. iv (1769) (South Russia).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. A round white patch between the bill and the eye; a chestnut patch surrounded by white on the ear-coverts, the white running in a baud down the side of the neck; upper-part of the head and hind-neck black; back and rump black; upper tail-coverts white; tail black; wing-coverts blackish-brown with pale edges, forming two broad grey wing-bands on the median and greater coverts; neck and upper breast rich chestnut lower breast black, running on to the abdomen ; posterior abdomen and under tail-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel or brown, " chestnut" (Witherby) bill and legs black.
Measurements. Wing 343 to 361 mm.; tail 97 to 109 mm.; tarsus about 50 to 57 mm.; culmen 23 to 26 mm.
Young birds have the black upper parts browner and duller; the white bands are less denned, the feathers margined with blackish-brown; the breast and chestnut parts are paler and more cinnamon in tint.
Distribution. Western Siberia, migrating South after breeding to practically the whole of Europe, Central Asia and casual to North-East Africa. It winters in Persia and there is no reason why it should not be found occasionally in India. Mundy undoubtedly saw a single specimen of this goose in Assam on the Brahmapootra and a flock of five passed within about 60 yards of a steamer I was in on the same river in March 1907. A probable occurrence was published in the ' Oriental Sporting Magazine' in 1836.
Nidification. This goose breeds in Western Siberia, Northern Russia and Eastern Lapland. Pearson first recorded its breeding in Lapland in 1896 (Ibis, 1896, p. 210) but Finnish ornithologists have since then again taken their eggs. Middendorf obtained eggs on the Boganida on the 25th of June, Seebohm found it nesting on the Yenesei in late June in 1877, whilst Popham found other nests on the same river in 1895.
The eggs are like those of the Bean-Goose and from seven to nine seems to form the full clutch. The average of seven eggs is 66.6 x 46.0 mm.: maxima 69.5 x 46.0 and 68.5 x 48.0 mm.; minima 63.0 x 44.8 mm.
Habits. Much the same as those of other geese. They are said to fly, even when migrating, much more in mass formation than in V-shape or in lines, whilst their voice is described as shrill and squeaky compared with that of Bean-Geese or White-fronted Geese. They are also said to have a low grunting or chuckling conversational note when feeding.