Photo: Glenn Bartley/Vireo

Greater White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons

In North America, this gray goose is found mainly west of the Mississippi River. Nesting on Arctic tundra, it winters in open country in mild climates. Wintering flocks leave night roosts before sunrise to fly to feeding areas, and musical gabbling and honking can be heard from wavering lines of White-fronts passing overhead at dawn. Included in this species is a large, dark form known as the "Tule Goose," nesting in southern Alaska and wintering in central California marshes.
Conservation status Total population in North America fluctuates. Apparently declined in 1970s, increased again in late 1980s and later. Status of "Tule Goose" poorly understood, may be vulnerable because of small numbers and limited range.
Family Ducks and Geese
Habitat Marshes, prairies, fields, lakes, bays; tundra in summer. Generally in open country; most spend winter where agricultural fields (for foraging) are close to extensive shallow waters (for roosting). Breeds on tundra, both wet coastal areas and drier inland tundra. "Tule Goose" breeds in wet open sloughs and bogs in spruce forest region, winters mainly in marshes.
In North America, this gray goose is found mainly west of the Mississippi River. Nesting on Arctic tundra, it winters in open country in mild climates. Wintering flocks leave night roosts before sunrise to fly to feeding areas, and musical gabbling and honking can be heard from wavering lines of White-fronts passing overhead at dawn. Included in this species is a large, dark form known as the "Tule Goose," nesting in southern Alaska and wintering in central California marshes.
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  • juvenile
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Feeding Behavior

Forages while walking on land by grazing and picking up items from ground. In water, submerges head and neck, or upends with tail up and head straight down.


Eggs

3-6, sometimes 1-8. Dull white, becoming nest-stained. Incubation is by female only, 22-27 days. Young: Can walk and swim well shortly after hatching. Both parents tend young, leading them to feeding areas; young feed themselves. Age at first flight 38-45 days. Young remain with parents for first year of life and often are loosely associated with them for several years.


Young

Can walk and swim well shortly after hatching. Both parents tend young, leading them to feeding areas; young feed themselves. Age at first flight 38-45 days. Young remain with parents for first year of life and often are loosely associated with them for several years.

Diet

Mostly plant material. In winter, mostly eats seeds and waste grain in fields, also grazes on new growth. In summer, eats stems and roots of grasses, sedges, horsetail, and other plants, also berries and buds. Eats a few aquatic insects and sometimes snails, possibly swallowed accidentally along with plants.


Nesting

Usually first breeds at age of 3 years. "Triumph display" important in pair bond: male briefly attacks some other bird, then returns to female with neck outstretched and wings partly open, and both male and female call loudly. Nest site is on ground, usually near water, generally surrounded by grasses, sedges, low shrubs. Nest (built by female) is shallow depression lined with plant materials, with down added near end of egg-laying.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

A long-distance migrant. Migrates by day or night. Follows established routes and relies on traditional stopover points on migration. Birds nesting in Greenland migrate east over North Atlantic, wintering mainly in Ireland; rarely stray to northeastern North America.

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Migration

A long-distance migrant. Migrates by day or night. Follows established routes and relies on traditional stopover points on migration. Birds nesting in Greenland migrate east over North Atlantic, wintering mainly in Ireland; rarely stray to northeastern North America.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A distinctive bark: kla-ha! or kla-hah-luk!
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Ducks and Geese Duck-like Birds

Greater White-fronted Goose

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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