Living Bird Magazine
Greater White-fronted GooseAnser albifrons
- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The Greater White-fronted Goose is a stocky brown goose that occurs across the Northern Hemisphere and in North America is found mainly west of the Mississippi. It sports white feathers around its pinkish orange bill, orange legs, and a white line down its side. These geese breed in arctic tundra and winter in large flocks in wetlands, lakes, and croplands. They can be confused with Graylag Geese, an often-domesticated species that can occur in small numbers around farms and parks in North America.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The best time to go looking for a Greater White-fronted Goose over much of the United States and Canada is during migration. From February through May and again from September through November look for Greater White-fronted Geese foraging in agricultural fields or resting on lakes and ponds. The winter months in California, Texas, and Louisiana are also good. They hang out in groups often with Snow and Canada Geese, where their brown plumage and medium size should help separate them. They are a little more skittish than other waterfowl; at wildlife refuges it’s often possible to get close to them as long as you drive slowly and stay in the car.
- Ánsar Careto (Spanish)
- Oie rieuse (French)
- 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 primarily uses marshes (often full of tule rushes) 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-fronted Goose 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 including the diminutive Ross's and Cackling Geese.
- Before migrating north, female Greater White-fronted Geese gain 30% more weight to fuel migration and egg production.
- 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.