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Greylag Goose Anser anser

The Greylag Goose is a rather big goose, measuring up to 90 cm. The wingspan of such a big bird can be up to 1.80 meters. Usually Greylag Geese weigh around 3.5 kilo. There are some similar geese around. The Bean Goose is extremely similar, but its beak is black. The Greater White-fronted Goose is very similar as well, but it has a white dot on its beak and very dark bands running over its lower body. The beak of the Greylag Goose stands out, for it is either pink, or orange. It is the forefather of the Domestic Goose and thus sometimes also referred to as the Wild Goose. In American English the name is spelled Graylag Goose.

In Holland the number of Greylag Geese has risen impressively. In 1950 one (!) couple was breeding, in 2011 over 35,000 couples are breeding. And the number of birds overwintering in Holland is impressive as well: around 400,000 animals. And there is more: the bird has even established itself in city parks, even right in the center of cities. It overwinters in parks, but even breeds in parks, providing there is enough water. It prefers (small) islands to breed. In Britain the species was almost extinct as well. In the 1950's they were breeding in Northern Scotland and were gone elsewhere. The species has been reintroduced in other parts of Britain and has established itself in most of Britain. It is estimated there are some 4,000 nests in England and Wales.

The breeding season starts by the end of March or the beginning of April. A nest is made, preferably of reet or parts of other plants. The nest may float in the water, or is on the ground. The Greylag Goose prefers to nest in a (small) colony. Usually 4 to 6 eggs are being laid (occasionally up to 8 eggs). After hatching the chicks follow their parents around. This is the most dangerous period for the birds, for many birds of prey, crows, magpies, foxes and fish will eat a young, given the chance.

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