Greater White-Fronted Goose

Anser albifrons
Range Map

With one of the largest ranges worldwide, the Greater White-Fronted Goose lives throughout the Northern Hemisphere.

Science recognises five subspecies of the Greater White-Fronted Goose:

  • A. a. gambeli is an Interior form that breeds in northern Alaska and Canada, and winters on the Gulf of Mexico.
  • A. a. frontalis is a Pacific form that breeds in Bristol Bay and western Alaska and winters in California and northwestern Mexico.
  • A. a. elgasi breeds in southwest Alaska and winters in California.
  • A. a. flavirostris breeds in Greenland and winters in Scotland and the British Isles.
  • A. a. albifrons breeds in Europe and Russia to the northern limits of Eurasia and winters in southern Europe, the Tigris-Euphrates Valley, and in southern China.

Most of my encounters with Greater White-Fronted Geese have occurred in California and Oregon, but Arizona and Texas provided a couple of brief sightings. While I was visiting the Sabal Palm Sanctuary, south of Brownsville (Texas), and looking out over the Rio Grande toward Mexico, the sound of geese and Sandhill Cranes wafted from afar, letting me know these birds were tantalizingly near. When I heard an explosion of wingbeats, I looked up in time to catch a few images of geese in a relocation flight. The way the river winds through the valley, I couldn’t be sure if the birds were in Mexico or the USA. They do not recognise border walls.

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