The English name of this species, and the scientific name of the Brent Goose B. bernicla and the goose barnacle Lepas anatifera, come from the old fable that Barnacle Geese were produced from barnacles (Lepadidae), organisms that grow on timber exposed to salt water. This was logical since these geese were never seen in summer, when they were supposedly developing underwater. The legend was also convenient, because it enabled Catholics to classify these geese as fish and therefore to eat their flesh during Lent.
The Barnacle Goose is easily identified by its largely black plumage and white face. Its call is a "kaw".