White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons (Scopoli, 1769) WG WHFGO 1590
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae

This small, grey goose with white forehead blaze and black belly-bars is a winter visitor to wetlands and coastal marshes.

Two races of White-fronted Goose occur in the UK: the nominate race albifrons, which breeds in western Russia and is referred to as Russian, or European White-fronted Goose, and flavirostris, which breeds in western Greenland and is called Greenland White-fronted Goose. Greenland White-fronted Geese occur in the north and west of Britain and Ireland, whilst Russian White-fronted Geese can be found in the south and east.

Wetland Bird Survey data show the range of sites where the two races winter, and it is estimated that 10,000–12,000 Greenland White-fronts and 1,000–2,000 Russian White-fronts spend the winter months here in the UK.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the White-fronted Goose

  • Breeding
  • Winter


White-fronted Goose identification is often straightforward. The following article may help when identifying White-fronted Goose.

related video

Identifying Grey Geese


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of White-fronted Goose, provided by xeno-canto contributors.


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.




Two distinctive subspecies of White-fronted Goose winter in Britain and Ireland. There is little range overlap, with the ‘European’ (albifrons) subspecies occurring mainly in southern England, and the ‘Greenland’ (flavirostris) subspecies occurring predominantly in Ireland and western and northern Scotland.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2


The two subspecies of White-fronted Goose were not reported separately during the 1981–84 Winter Atlas, thereby limiting range-change calculations to the species level. Nevertheless, knowledge of the general distribution of the two forms helps when interpreting the change map, which shows a 10% range contraction in Ireland compared with a 36% expansion in Britain, most notably in south-east England, along the east coast of England and in south and east Scotland.


White-fronted Geese are winter visitors, present from October to April, with occasional stragglers and naturalised birds at other times.

Weekly occurence of White-fronted Goose from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of White-fronted Goose ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about White-fronted Goose, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Gaelic: Gèadh-bhlàr
Welsh: Gwydd Dalcenwen
Catalan: oca riallera grossa
Czech: husa belocelá
Danish: Blisgås
Dutch: Kolgans
Estonian: suur-laukhani
Finnish: tundrahanhi
French: Oie rieuse
German: Blässgans
Hungarian: nagy lilik
Icelandic: Blesgæs
Irish: Gé Bhánéadanach
Italian: Oca lombardella
Latvian: baltpieres zoss
Lithuanian: baltakakte žasis
Norwegian: Tundragås
Polish: ges bialoczelna
Portuguese: ganso-de-testa-branca
Slovak: hus bielocelá
Slovenian: belocela gos
Spanish: Ánsar careto
Swedish: bläsgås

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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