Greater White-Fronted Goose

There are several species of Greater White-Fronted Geese that breed on the northern tundra of Alaska, Russia and Greenland. Greater White-Fronted Goose|Oceano State Park|Oceano, CA The color and size of these geese varies because of regional differences.  Our goose is known as the Greater White-Fronted Goose because there is a smaller, similar goose in northern Europe and Asia known as the Lesser White-Fronted Goose.  There is also darker race, called the “Tule Goose” which is found in Alaska.


The Greater White-Fronted Goose is a small goose; it is only about 28″ high.  It is mottled gray-brown overall with a pinkish-orange bill, which sports a white tip.  A white fringe of feathers is found at base of the bill which provides one field mark for identifying the goose. It has a black tail, but the feathers under the rear are white and it has a white band across the tip of the tail. The legs are bright orange.  Another field mark is the black bars crossing the belly in a random pattern.  The juvenile is dusky colored and lacks white on face and the black belly bars; it has a yellow bill and yellow legs. It will acquire the white face feathers and the white tip on the bill in the first winter, and the dark belly bars by second fall.

Range and Habitat

The Greater White-Fronted Goose is found on lawns, grassy fields, in grain fields, pastures, and around marshy vegetation.  Other favorite areas are coastal lagoons and lakes, and wetlands.  They are usually found west of the Hudson Bay in the United States. They are rare east of the Mississippi.  They migrate long distances from their nesting areas on the tundra, and can be found wintering in the Sacramento Valley of California and south to Mexico. Other geese winter in specific areas of the Europe and the Middle East


These geese form large flocks on their wintering grounds, where flocks may number in the thousands. They winter where they can find shallow water and agricultural fields on which to feed. They feed by dabbing in the water and by grazing in the fields. They eat seeds, grain, berries, stems and roots, and some invertebrates. Their call is a high pitched laughing “kah-kah-aluck”.  They are social birds, feeding in groups.

Breeding and Nesting

The White-Fronted Goose breeds on the marshy tundra. They are territorial during breeding season. The nest is a downy lined depression on the tundra ground near water but hidden.  The female lays 4-7 eggs and incubates them for 22-27 days.  The goslings are able to feed themselves and swim as soon as they hatch but the parents continue to care for them.  The usually stay with their parents for the first year and sometimes longer.  These geese don’t breed until they are around 3 years old.

Photo Gallery Greater White Fronted Goose