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Greater White-fronted Goose


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.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
25.2–31.9 in
64–81 cm
53.1 in
135 cm
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.
  • The oldest recorded Greater White-fronted Goose was at least 25 years, 6 months old when it was found in Louisiana in 1998. It had been banded in Nunavut in 1975.



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



Seeds, grain, grasses, sedges, berries.


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




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


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Greater white-fronted Goose populations may vary from year to year, but overall between 2005 and 2014, populations showed no significant trends. The Pacific population had a severe decline in the 1970s and 1980s, but increased from the 1980's until 2005. The Tule goose subspecies is vulnerable because of its low population size and restricted distribution. Greater White-fronted Goose is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


  • 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.
  • Bellrose, F. C. 1976. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Stackpole Books, Harrisburg, PA.
  • North American Bird Conservation Initiative, U.S. Committee. 2014. State of the Birds 2014 Report. U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2015. Waterfowl Population Status, 2015. U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, DC.
  • USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. 2015. Longevity records of North American Birds.

Range Map Help

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

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