Greylag geese Anser anser, photographed by Michael Maggs.

Belongs within: Anserinae.

The genus Anser contains the grey and white geese, including the domestic goose. Anser species generally have uniform grey, brown or white body coloration with pink, orange or yellow bills and/or legs. Most domestic goose breeds are derived from the greylag goose Anser anser, except for the Chinese goose which is derived from the swan goose A. cygnoides. The swan goose is native to China and is distinguished from other geese by its contrasting head coloration with dark brown crown and nape but pale lower part of head and throat. The greylag goose is found across Europe and northern Asia, with populations migrating into southern Asia during the non-breeding period; wild individuals are uniformly grey brown with a pink bill and legs, and pale upperwing-coverts that are visible in flight.

<==Anser Brisson 1760 CC10 [incl. Anseria Rafinesque 1815 (n. n.) B94, Cygnopsis Brandt 1836 B94]
    |  i. s.: A. brumeli Milne-Edwards 1871 M02
    |         A. caerulescens (Linnaeus 1758) (see below for synonymy) CC10
    |           |--A. c. caerulescens CS77 [incl. A. hyperboreus Pallas 1769 CS77, A. caerulescens hyperborea L81]
    |           `--A. c. atlanticus (Kennard 1927) CS77
    |         A. scaldii Beneden ex Lambrecht 1933 [=Anas scaldii] M02
    |         A. thraceiensis Burčak-Abramovič & Nikolov 1984 M02
    |--A. rossii PJ02
    `--+--A. canagicus PJ02
       `--+--A. indicus (Latham 1790) BKB15, CS77
          `--+--A. brachyrhynchus Baillon 1833 BKB15, CS77 [=A. fabalis brachyrhynchus FP64]
             `--+--+--A. erythropus (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas erythropus CS77]
                |  `--A. fabalis (Latham 1787) BKB15, CS77 (see below for synonymy)
                |       |--A. f. fabalis CS77
                |       |--A. f. johanseni Delacour 1951 CS77
                |       |--A. f. middendorffii Severtsov 1872 CS77
                |       |--A. f. rossicus Buturlin 1933 CS77
                |       `--A. f. serrirostris Swinhoe 1871 CS77
                `--+--A. albifrons (Scopoli 1769) BKB15, CS77 [=Branta albifrons CS77]
                   |    |--A. a. albifrons CS77 [incl. A. bruchii M05]
                   |    |--A. a. elgasi Delacour & Ripley 1975 CS77
                   |    |--A. a. flavirostris Dalgety & Scott 1948 CS77
                   |    |--A. a. frontalis Baird 1858 CS77
                   |    `--A. a. gambelli Hartlaub 1852 CS77
                   `--+--A. anser (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
                      |    |--A. a. anser [incl. A. anser sylvestris] CS77
                      |    `--A. a. rubrirostris Swinhoe 1871 CS77
                      `--A. cygnoides (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, I92 [=Cygnopsis cygnoides RN72]

Anser anser (Linnaeus 1758) BKB15, CC10 [=Anas anser CC10; incl. Anser cinereus Meyer 1810 CC10, Anser anser cinereus L81, *Anser domesticus CC10, Anser anser ferus Brünnich 1764 CC10]

Anser caerulescens (Linnaeus 1758) [=Anas caerulescens; incl. Anser hyperboreus Pallas 1769, Chen hyperboreus] CC10

Anser fabalis (Latham 1787) BKB15, CS77 [=Anas fabalis CS77; incl. Anser carneirostris Buturlin 1901 CS77, Anser neglectus Sushkin 1895 CS77]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

[CS77] Cramp, S., & K. E. L. Simmons (eds) 1977. Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palaearctic vol. 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

[FP64] Fisher, J., & R. T. Peterson. 1964. The World of Birds: A comprehensive guide to general ornithology. Macdonald: London.

[I92] Iwahashi, J. (ed.) 1992. Reddo Deeta Animaruzu: a pictorial of Japanese fauna facing extinction. JICC: Tokyo.

[L81] Long, J. L. 1981. Introduced Birds of the World: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments. Reed: Sydney.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[M05] Möller, R. 2005. Zur Biographie des Ornithologen Karl Friedrich Bruch (1789–1857). Mauritiana 19 (2): 327–357.

[PJ02] Paxinos, E. E., H. F. James, S. L. Olson, M. D. Sorenson, J. Jackson & R. C. Fleischer. 2002. MtDNA from fossils reveals a radiation of Hawaiian geese recently derived from the Canada goose (Branta canadensis). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 99: 1399–1404.

[RN72] Rutgers, A., & K. A. Norris (eds.) 1972. Encyclopaedia of Aviculture vol. 1. Blandford Press: London.

Last updated: 27 November 2021.

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