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A photo of a Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons

The Greater White-fronted Goose, Anser albifrons, is a medium-sized goose species distinguished by the white feathers that border the base of its bill, hence the name "white-fronted". Adults are marked by a unique pattern of black bars and blotches on their bellies, earning them the nickname "specklebelly" in North America. They exhibit bright orange legs and a wingspan ranging from 130 to 165 cm, with a body length of 64 to 81 cm.

Identification Tips

These geese have a greyish-brown plumage with lighter grey breasts dappled with dark brown or black. The males are typically larger, but both sexes share similar appearances, including a pinkish bill and orange legs and feet. Unlike their close relative, the Lesser White-fronted Goose, they lack a yellow eye-ring, and the white on their face does not extend as far upwards.


Greater White-fronted Geese breed in the northern reaches of Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Russia. They prefer tundra landscapes and wetlands for nesting and rearing their young.


During the winter months, these geese migrate southward to more temperate regions of North America, Europe, and Asia. They are known to overwinter in places like the British Isles, Ireland, and the Central Valley of California.


These geese are highly migratory and exhibit a variety of migration patterns based on their breeding location. They are social birds, often found in flocks, and are known for their strong family bonds, sometimes maintaining parental care for several years.

Song & Calls

The Greater White-fronted Goose is vocal, with a high-pitched cackle that can be described as a "he-he" sound. The call has a notable break between the first and second cackle.


The breeding success of these geese is heavily influenced by weather conditions. They have a short breeding season in the Arctic, which can be compromised by late snowmelt or spring storms.

Similar Species

The Lesser White-fronted Goose is similar but smaller, with a yellow eye-ring and more extensive white on the face. The Greater White-fronted Goose also has more extensive belly barring than its lesser counterpart.

Diet and Feeding

Greater White-fronted Geese are herbivores, feeding on a variety of plant materials, including grasses, roots, and grains. They often forage in agricultural fields during migration and winter.

Conservation status

The species is currently listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, the Greenland subspecies, flavirostris, is of conservation concern due to a decline in its population, possibly linked to extreme weather conditions.

Differences between European and Greenland birds

European and Greenland birds differ in appearance, with Greenland birds appearing darker and more "oily-looking". They have narrower white fringes on their upperparts, a darker tail with a narrow white tip, and an orange-yellow bill, compared to the European birds' brighter pink bill with a dark nail.

Greater White-fronted Goose Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Greater White-fronted Goose Fun Facts

Did you know?
Female Greater White-fronted Geese need to gain 30 percent more weight to be able to migrate north and lay eggs.

Greater White-fronted Geese on Birda


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