Pink-footed goose is a medium-sized goose, appearing rather compact, short-necked and short-billed. The most distinctive features of pink-footed goose are a dark brown head and neck that contrasts (particularly in flight) with a pale grey forewing. Winter plumage is greyer than the browner summer dress, and all ages show plain unmarked underparts. The vent is white, as are the uppertail of pink-footed goose coverts and trim around the tail. The bill is small and short, black in colour with a pink band over the culmen near the tip, the band extending up the bill sides in a narrow stripe, although it is variable in size and shape. The legs and feet, as the common name would suggest, are pink.
Breeding only in Greenland, Iceland and Spitzbergen, pink-footed goose nest on upland moors, and in Iceland can be seen along river valleys, particularly when with fledged young. In winter they occur from Denmark to the Low Countries, and gather in large numbers in Britain, where they prefer arable fields for feeding, roosting near lakes, estuaries and other coastal features.
Pink-footed goose is highly vocal. In flight a flock gives a continuous cackling, with a medley of calls at different pitches that is often likened to the yapping of puppies! The calls are a two- or three-syllable "ahng-ahng-ahng", a difficult-to-transcribe sound variously written as "wink-wink", "aa'aa'aa" and "aaahh-aaahng", higher pitched than larger species of goose but lower than the laughing of Greater White-fronted Geese. They also give an alarm call, a sharper higher-pitched note.