Anser albifrons - (Scopoli, 1769)
Greater White-fronted Goose
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Anser albifrons (Scopoli, 1769) (TSN 175020)
French Common Names: oie rieuse
Spanish Common Names: Ganso Careto-Mayor
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.104263
Element Code: ABNJB03040
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Waterfowl
Image 10646

© Dick Cannings

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae Anser
Genus Size: C - Small genus (6-20 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Anser albifrons
Taxonomic Comments: Exhibits geographic variation in morphology; breeders from Bristol Bay Lowlands are distinguishable from those in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska; further study of variation and subspecific status is needed (Orthmeyer et al. 1995). Subspecies elgasi (tule goose) may be a distinct species (Sibley and Monroe 1990, AOU 1998). May constitute a superspecies with A. erythropus (AOU 1998).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 20Nov1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B,N5N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N4N5N,N5M (22Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S3N), Alaska (S5B), Arizona (S2N), Arkansas (S4N), California (SNRN), Colorado (SNA), Georgia (S3), Idaho (S4M), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (S3N), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (SNA), Louisiana (S5N), Maryland (SNA), Minnesota (SNRM), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNRN), Montana (SNA), Navajo Nation (S2N), Nebraska (SNRN), Nevada (S2N), New Jersey (SNA), New Mexico (S5N), North Carolina (SNA), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (S3N), Oregon (SNA), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (S3N), Texas (S5), Utah (SNA), Virginia (SNA), Washington (S3S4N), West Virginia (S1N), Wisconsin (S4N), Wyoming (S4N)
Canada Alberta (S5M), British Columbia (S4M), Manitoba (SUM), Northwest Territories (S5B), Nunavut (S5B,S5M), Ontario (SNA), Quebec (S3M), Saskatchewan (S5M), Yukon Territory (S4B,S4M)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDS: Northern Holarctic, although absent from eastern Greenland, Spitsbergen, Iceland, northern Scandinavia, and area between northeastern sections of Mackenzie and Keewatin districts, Northwest Territories. WINTERS: south to France, northern Africa, Greece, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Japan, southern Mexico, and U.S. Gulf Coast; casual in Hawaii. In the U.S., occurs in winter primarily in California (Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta) and coastal Texas (Root 1988, Condor 94:858). Subspecies ELGASI: breeds around Cook Inlet, Alaska; winters primarily in Sacramento Valley, California.

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Mid-continent autumn population about 773,000 in 1996 (Nieman and Smith 1996). Pacific flyway population about 295,000 in 1993 (Alaska Dept. Fish and Game 1994). Subspecies FLAVIROSTRIS of Greenland: total population estimated at 26,700 as of late 1989 (Condor 94:791-793).

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%
Short-term Trend Comments: During the 1980s, the Eastern Midcontinent population was increasing, the Western Midcontinent population was stable, and the Pacific Flyway population was decreasing (USFWS 1988); most of the decline in the Pacific Flyway population has been in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta nesting population (Johnson and Herter 1989, which see for further information on status in the Beaufort Sea region). Pacific Flyway population declined from 400,000 to 100,000 birds during the 1970s but grew to over 295,000 by 1993 (Alaska Dept. Fish and Game 1994).

Long-term Trend: Unknown

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDS: Northern Holarctic, although absent from eastern Greenland, Spitsbergen, Iceland, northern Scandinavia, and area between northeastern sections of Mackenzie and Keewatin districts, Northwest Territories. WINTERS: south to France, northern Africa, Greece, Iraq, Afghanistan, China, Japan, southern Mexico, and U.S. Gulf Coast; casual in Hawaii. In the U.S., occurs in winter primarily in California (Klamath Basin, Sacramento Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta) and coastal Texas (Root 1988, Condor 94:858). Subspecies ELGASI: breeds around Cook Inlet, Alaska; winters primarily in Sacramento Valley, California.

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NN, NV, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, NT, NU, ON, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002

Ecology & Life History
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Reproduction Comments: In North America, nests are initiated from mid-May to early June. Female incubates an average of 4-6 eggs for an average of 26-28 days; male stands guard. Hatching usually occurs in late June or early July in the Beaufort Sea region. Nestlings are tended by both adults. Family groups stay in social contact on the wintering grounds for up to several years (Ely, 1993, Auk 110:425-435). In western Greenland, first breeds usually at 2-4 years (Condor 94:791-793). Does not replace destroyed clutch (if complete). Often nests in loose colonies (e.g., 15-20 pairs in area of 0.65 sq km or less). Maximum reported nest density in northern Alaska was about 1.6 nests per sq km (Johnson and Herter 1989).
Ecology Comments: Major causes of nest destruction in Alaska were flooding (28%) and predation (9%) (Ely and Raveling 1984).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Gathers in large flocks and migrates southward in fall, northward in spring. Nesters from Redoubt Bay in upper Cook Inlet, Alaska, winter primarily in the Sacramento Valley, California (Johnson and Herter 1989). Central Flyway migrants winter in Texas, Louisiana, and eastern Mexico, use grain fields in southern parts of Canadian Prairie Provinces as staging areas for several weeks before continuing to northern nesting areas. Arrives in western Alaska nesting areas late April-early May, in northern Alaska beginning mid-May through June. Departs from Alaska by the end of September, arrives in central California by November. In northern Canada, major staging areas are in the Mackenzie Delta, Blow River delta, Babbage River delta, and on the coastal plain along the Blow and Walking rivers (Johnson and Herter 1989). See Johnson and Herter (1989) for further details on migration.

Subspecies FLAVIROSTRIS breeds in west Greenland, winters in Britain and Ireland.

Riverine Habitat(s): Low gradient
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Tundra
Habitat Comments: In migration and winter, inhabits wetlands, grainfields, grassy fields, marshes, lakes and ponds. Breeds on arctic tundra on edge of marshes, lakes, sloughs, rivers. May nest on islands, on hillsides near open water, or on hummocks in bogs. Female scrapes out depression and lines it with grasses and down.
Adult Food Habits: Granivore, Herbivore
Immature Food Habits: Granivore, Herbivore
Food Comments: Primarily a grazer; feeds on marsh grasses, grain crops, tundra plants, aquatic plants, and fresh plant growth in fields. Also eats berries, aquatic insects and their larvae (Terres 1980). On the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, primary prenesting foods were pendent grass (ARCTOPHILA) shoots and arrowgrass (TRIGLOCHIN) bulbs; crowberries also were consumed; these foods contributed significantly to nutrient reserves necessary for reproduction (Budeau et al. 1991). In California in winter, fed primarily on cereal grains (Condor 94:857-870).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Colonial Breeder: Y
Length: 71 centimeters
Weight: 2587 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Swans and Geese

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding , or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.
Mapping Guidance: Map Foraging Areas in separate polygons from the nest site if they are separated from the nest by areas simply flown over on commuting routes.
Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas and foraging areas used during the nesting season, but the separation distance is based on nesting-area polygons. Thus different occurrences may overlap if birds from different nesting areas travel to the same foraging area during the nesting season. The separation distance is arbitrary but is intended to yield occurrences that are not impracticably large for conservation purposes.

Canada Geese usually forage near nest site, but adults will forage up to 8 kilometers away (Williams and Sooter 1941, Hammond and Mann 1956) and young will occasionally travel up to 16 kilometers to a foraging area as well (Palmer 1976). Mean home ranges of brood-rearing Snow Geese ranged from 6.6 to 21.7 square kilometers on Bylot Island (Hughes et al. 1994).

Inferred Minimum Extent of Habitat Use (when actual extent is unknown): 3 km
Inferred Minimum Extent Justification: Based on the conservative, smaller mean home range for Snow Geese of 6.6 square kilometers (Hughes et al. 1994).
Date: 26Apr2004
Author: Cannings, S. and G. Hammerson
Notes: Contains all species of swans and geese, as well as whistling-ducks.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Some swans - Cygnus buccinator, in particular - have known migratory routes and staging areas. For these, evidence of past or present recurring presence of migrating or staging flocks and potential recurring presence at a given location. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season and habitat; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance arbitrary, set to yield occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes.
Date: 07Aug2017
Author: Ormes, M.
Notes: Created at request of NE; needs review by zoologist.

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging area, Roosting site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of past or present recurring presence of flocks of nonbreeding birds, including nonbreeding birds within the breeding season and breeding individuals outside the breeding season, and potential recurring presence at a given location. Normally only areas where concentrations greater than 50 birds occur regularly for at least 20 days per year would be deemed EOs.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance arbitrary, set to yield occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of foraging birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations. Swans and geese can travel considerable distances on a daily basis; in winter, flocks of Canada Geese foraged up to 48 km from roost in Texas (Glazener 1946).
Date: 26Apr2004
Author: Cannings, S., and G. Hammerson
Notes: Contains all species of swans and geese, as well as whistling-ducks.

Use Class: Wintering site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Overlaps with Nonbreeding LUC, but some swans - Cygnus buccinator in particular - have distinct wintering and staging areas. For these, evidence of past or present recurring presence of flocks of nonbreeding birds, and potential recurring presence at a given location. Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season and habitat; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.
Separation Barriers: None
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 10 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 10 km
Date: 07Aug2017
Author: Ormes, M.
Notes: Created at request of NE; needs review by zoologist.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 07Nov1995
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): HAMMERSON, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.

  • Andrews, R. R. and R. R. Righter. 1992. Colorado Birds. Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver. 442 pp.

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  • See SERO listing

  • Sibley, C.G., and B.L. Monroe, Jr. 1990. Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT. xxiv + 1111 pp.

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  • Soothill, E., and P. Whitehead. 1978. Wildfowl of the world. Peerage Books, London.

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  • Williams, C. S., and C. A. Sooter. 1941. Canada Goose habitats in Utah and Oregon. Transactions of the North American Wildlife Conference 5:383-387.

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