Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)


French: Oie rieuse German: Blässgans Spanish: Ánsar careto
Other common names: European White-fronted Goose (albifrons), Pacific White-fronted Goose (frontalis), Interior White-fronted Goose (gambelli), Tule White-fronted Goose, Tule Goose (elgasi), Greenland White-fronted Goose (flavirostris)

Branta albifrons


, 1769,

no locality = ? northern Italy


Closely related to A. erythropus; the two have apparently hybridized in captivity#R. Race flavirostris distinguished by orange-yellow vs pink bill, but otherwise essentially inseparable. Validity of race elgasi has been questioned; sometimes synonymized with gambelli#R. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. albifrons (Scopoli, 1769) – N Russia and Siberia from Kanin Peninsula to R Kolyma; winters NW, C & SE Europe to SW Asia, Pakistan, N India and China.
  • A. a. frontalis S. F. Baird, 1858 – E Siberia from R Kolyma E to Arctic Canada; winters along Pacific coasts S to China and Mexico.
  • A. a. gambelli Hartlaub, 1852 – taiga of N & C Alaska and NW Canada; winters SW USA and Mexico.
  • A. a. sponsa Banks, 2011 – SW Alaska; winters California and W Mexico.
  • A. a. elgasi Delacour & Ripley, 1975 – S Alaska (Cook Inlet); winters California (Sacramento Valley).
  • A. a. flavirostris Dalgety & P. M. Scott, 1948 – W Greenland; winters British Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    65–86 cm; male 2050–3600 g, female 1800–2900 g (flavirostris); wingspan 130–165 cm. Main risk of confusion is with A. erythropus,... read more


    Very vocal at all seasons (especially when in flocks) and vocalizations give rise to old,... read more


    Breeds in open tundra near marshes, boggy mires, lakes, pools and rivers, near coast as well as... read more

    Food and feeding

    Roots, leaves, stems and seeds of various plants, herbs, berries, grasses and sedges; also grain (corn, oats), potatoes and sprouting... read more


    Starts late May/Jun, for example race elgasi (in Alaska) reaches breeding areas in late Apr and initiated nests on average 15 days... read more


    Migratory, spends winter months in fixed areas at lower latitudes, mostly in temperate Europe, Asia... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally widespread and abundant, although some races scarce and is hunted over nearly its entire range, although restrictive... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 January 2020).