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Greater White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Breeding across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland, the Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any species of goose in the world. In North America, however, it is common only west of the Mississippi River, where it is found in large flocks in wetlands and croplands.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
25.2–31.9 in
64–81 cm
Wingspan
53.1 in
135 cm
Weight
68.8–116.8 oz
1951–3311 g
Other Names
  • White-fronted Goose (English)
  • Oie rieuse (French)
  • Ganzo frente blanca (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Tule goose is a large, dark subspecies of the Greater White-fronted Goose. This form breeds just around Cook Inlet in Alaska, and numbers only about 7,500. It winters in the Sacramento Valley of California, where it meets the more widespread subspecies. The Tule goose uses primarily marshes while the other form forages in open fields.
  • As is true of many geese, Greater White-fronted Goose pairs stay together for years and migrate together, along with their offspring. White-front family bonds can last longer than in most geese, and some young stay with their parents through the next breeding season. Parent and sibling associations may continue throughout their lives.
  • A smaller, but very similar goose is found in northern Asia and Europe. It is known as the Lesser White-fronted Goose and is the reason our goose is known as the "Greater." Dwarf species seem to have appeared repeatedly in geese. Other similar pairs are the Ross's and Snow geese and Cackling and Canada geese.
  • The Greater White-fronted Goose subspecies that breeds in Greenland usually winters in Ireland and Scotland. It occasionally turns up on the East Coast of North America. It is slightly larger than the typical American form, and has a brighter orange (less pink) bill, but telling them apart definitively is difficult.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Breeds along tundra wetlands. Winters in agricultural fields, marshes, bays, and lakes.

Food


Plants

Seeds, grain, grasses, sedges, berries.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–8 eggs
Egg Description
White to tan, stained during incubation.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down and eyes open. Leaves nest within 24 hours of hatching and has the ability to swim and feed.
Nest Description

Nest a scrape in the ground lined with plant material and down feathers.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Dabbler

Gleans grain from fields, grazes on grass, forages in shallow water by tipping-up.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Populations increasing. Pacific population had a severe decline in the 1970s and 1980s, but is recovering. Tule goose subspecies is vulnerable because of its low population size and restricted distribution.

Credits

    1. Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.
    2. Ely, C. R., and A. X. Dzubin. 1994. Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons). In The Birds of North America, No. 131 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

Range Map Help

Greater White-fronted Goose Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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