ind the best places to hunt White-fronted Geese in Canada. Discover their Physical Description, Range, Habitat, Food Source, Breeding Habits, and Status. 

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) White-fronted Goose, Anser albifronsLC

Range - Distribution and Habitat of the White-fronted Goose:

White-fronted Goose Breeding Grounds
 White Fronted Goose Range Map

Original Source of Map of North America from

Modified by:


There are three subspecies of Greater White-Fronted goose that are native breeding residents in Canada’s Arctic. The Canadian population of geese are often referred to as the mid-continent White-fronted Goose.

The breeding grounds for the Greater White-fronted goose is on the Arctic’s tundra. Starting in Greenland, then in Nunavut all the way westward to Siberia. Generally, it is not common east of the Mississippi River. It also has the largest range of the world’s geese and can be found in large flocks in wetlands and croplands.

Pacific White-fronted Goose

  • The breeding grounds for this subspecies starts with eastern Siberia, then from Alaska’s Bering Seas to Canada’s Mackenzie River and finally on Saint Lawrence the Bering Sea.
  • It winters in the United States, Mexico, China, and Japan.

Tule White Fronted Goose

  • The Tule White-Fronted Goose breed on the Cook Inlet Lowlands in central Alaska and winters in California, Texas, and Louisiana. The Tule prefers marshy habitats whereas the other will congregate in open fields.

Greenland white-fronted goose

  • This subspecies breeds on the Greenland’s west coast and in Canada on the taiga of the Mackenzie Basin. Its wintering grounds are in mainly in Ireland and Scotland but it does occasionally winter in eastern Canada and United States along the Atlantic Coast.

Breeding/Nesting Habitat

This specie nests both on the coast and inland on the open tundra. It prefers to nest within low lying shrubs of willow or birch. It may also use tall sedges and grasses. Whatever it does use, it is likely that it will be within 300 ft. (91 meters) of water like a marsh, lake, or river. It also requires the nesting site to be dry so it will seek out a hillside, a higher river bank, an island, a mound, or hummock in a bog. A good overview of the surrounding area is an added bonus.

Winter Habitat

At this time of year, you will find it in grain fields, pastures, or in grasslands on either agricultural land or in open country. It may also occupy wetlands, ponds, lakes, and brackish or freshwater marshes. For roosting it will use tidal marshes, sheltered bays, inland lakes, and reservoirs.

Description of White-fronted Goose:

Greater White-fronted Goose Blue White-fronted Goose
 White Fronted Goose  Greenland white Fronted goose
Photo by Jeff Bryant - Flicker Photo by Mickeal Day - Flickr

It is difficult at first to determine why it is called a White-fronted Goose. It is easier once you know that it is called that because of the patch of white feathers at the base of its bill. What is more pronounced is the salt and pepper colouring of grey, browns, and blacks on its chest and overall it is comprised of light and dark browns along with some grey and black shading on its wings and body. Because of its belly colour this bird may also be known by locals as a “specklebelly”.

Their upper wing coverts are They have bright orange legs and feet as well as a pink bill.

Other than males being slightly larger than females, there are no visual differences between the sexes.

This species will range 25 to 32 inches (64 to 81 cm.) in length, has a wingspan of 51 to 65 inches (130 – 165 cm.) across, and will have a body mass of 4.3 to 7.3 lbs. (1.93 to 3.31 kg.).

The Green White-fronted Goose is slightly larger than the Pacific, it is a darker colour, it has more black bars on its belly and its bill is orange not pink.

The maximum age of this bird has been recorder to be 20.3 years.

Diet and Foraging Strategy of the White-fronted Goose:

This species will consume the berries, bulbs, roots, leaves, shoots, stems, seeds and fruits of marsh grasses, herbs, grasses and sedges. Some of the specific plants that it targets are arrowgrass, barnyardgrass, carpetbent grass, cattails, cordgrass, creeping buttercup, dandelion, horsetail, spike rush, white clover, panic grass, pendent grass, crowberries. It will also eat insects and mollusks, but it is considered to be an herbivore. In the fall, you will find it in agricultural fields where it is looking for spent grain of corn, oats, wheat, rice, soybean, and barley. 

Breeding and Reproduction of the White-Fronted Goose:

White-Fronted Geese are not sexually mature until their 3 year of life. They form pair bonds during their second winter. Bonded pairs of White-Fronted Geese have a life long monogamous relationship and breeding occurs from late May to early June,

Like other geese the female selects the nesting site and constructs it while the male stands guard. He will also stand guard while she lays the eggs. The hen will choose a high dry site with good visibility within vegetation. The nest is a simple shallow depression scraped in the ground. She then sets dried plant material around herself and lines the nest with her own down.

The hen will lay a clutch of 4 to 7 eggs and once they are laid. Both the male and female will take turns to incubate the nest. This process takes 26 to 28 days to occur.

The chicks are born in an advanced state of development (called precocial) and once they are dry are able to walk, swim, and feed themselves. Once the entire brood has hatched and they are all dry. The hen with her mate will lead them to water.  The hatchlings will fledge in about 45 days.

In September, breeding pairs along with their offspring will migrate to their wintering grounds and the juveniles may stay with their parents right up to and into next years mating season.

Status of White-fronted Goose:

The White-Fronted Goose was assessed by BirdLife International in 2015 and was placed on the ICUN’s Red List as a species of Least Concern. Justification for this assessment on the Red List was because it has a very large range and even though the population trend is not known it is not believed to be in peril.

Predators of this species includes foxes, Jaegers, and gulls.


White-Fronted Goose

Creative Commons

  • © WoRMS for SMEBD - Source: World Register of Marine Species
  • © NatureServe - Source: NatureServe
  • © International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources - Source: IUCN
  • © Joao Pedro de Magalhaes - Source: AnAge
  • Morphological Differences In Pacific Coast Populations Of Greater White-Fronted Geese

Public Domain

  • Source: US Forest Service Fire Effects Information Service
  • Supplier: J Medby
  • Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada 2014
  • Waterfowl Identification Guide Reprinted and adapted by Environment Canada -
  • Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada November 2013 - Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) Migratory Birds Regulatory Report Number 40
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service Waterfowl Status Report 2016 -
  • Midcontinent Greater White-fronted Goose Banding in Alaska, 2016
  • South Carolina Department of Natural Resources -
  • Preliminary Snow Goose and White Fronted Goose Management Plan For British Columbia -
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