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A medium-sized goose, the white-fronted averages 25 to 32 inches in length, has an average wingspan of 53 inches, and weighs between four and nine pounds.
General coloration is gray-brown, with black speckles on the belly. The forehead, base of bill, rump, flanks and undertail are white, the tail is dark with white tip, and there is a thin white stripe along each side. The bird's common name comes from the white on the upper chest and front of the neck. The least distinctively marked of all the geese, white-fronteds are often confused with domestic geese, although domestics lack the black belly markings and have thinner necks and bigger bellies.
Both sexes look alike, although the male is usually slightly larger than the female. Goslings lack the white forehead and black belly marks but are otherwise miniature versions of their parents.
Distribution and Habitat
The white-fronted goose breeds across the Arctic tundra of Europe, Asia and North America. In North America it winters along the Pacific States from southern British Columbia southward to southern Mexico, and from central Mexico to the Mississippi River. Eurasian populations winter in the British Isles and eastern Asia.
During the breeding season these geese are found along tundra wetlands. They spend their winters in agricultural fields, marshes, bays, and lakes.
As is true of many geese, greater white-fronted geese pair for years (not necessarily for life, however) and migrate together in family groups. Family bonds can last longer than in most other geese, and some young stay with their parents through the next breeding season. Parent-sibling associations may continue throughout their lives.
The nest is a depression scraped in the ground and lined with plant material and flowers. A clutch may contain anywhere from one to eight white to tan eggs. Goslings are able to leave the nest within 24 hours of hatching.
White-fronted geese feed on seeds, grain, grasses, sedges, and berries.
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This page was last updated on June 22, 2017.