Thursday, February 9, 2012

Greater White-fronted Goose

Greater White-fronted GooseAdult Greater White-fronted Goose, Beaverton, Oregon, 9 December 2011 by Greg Gillson.

 

Greater White-fronted Geese visit the Pacific NW every fall and spring. A few birds spend the winter mixed in flocks of Cackling Geese or in city parks where they take on the habits of the local tame ducks and geese. Many of the local migratory flocks seem to go over at night, without stopping, on their way from the Central Valley of California to the Arctic of Alaska. So we don't often get to see large numbers on the ground. But they do stop regularly in the Klamath Basin and some other areas east of the Cascades.

Worldwide, the circumpolar Greater White-fronted Goose is found in nearly the entire northern hemisphere. And, yes, in case you were wondering, there is a Lesser Canada Goose found in Eurasia.

Like other geese, Greater White-fronted are grazers, eating grass, but also agricultural waste grains like corn and barley.

I photographed the birds in this post in December in a city park in Beaverton, Oregon. They were an apparent family group with only one adult (photo above) and 8 immature birds (one of which photographed below).

I've never seen such an extensive black belly on any other Greater White-fronted Goose, as the adult above. This is simply individual variation, and seems not related to differences between the 3-4 described North American subspecies. Usually adult birds have black bars across the belly.

Immature birds in their first year lack the dark belly bars and the white ring of feathers around the bill is less well formed.

 

Greater White-fronted GooseImmature Greater White-fronted Goose, Beaverton, Oregon, 9 December 2011 by Greg Gillson.

 

Greater White-fronted Geese are just a bit larger than Cackling Canada Geese, but much smaller than Canada Geese and domestic farmyard geese, also known as Graylag Geese. (See this photo.)

3 comments:

  1. Great to catch your post, I just saw a single Greater White fronted with a few Cackling Geese in Tualatin -

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  2. Just saw a pair of these hanging out with a small flock of Canadian Geese at Dawson Creek in Hillsboro, OR. First time I've seen these!

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