South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Greater White-fronted Goose

Anser albifrons

Length: 26 to 34 inches Wingspan: 54 to 62 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: White band at base of pink bill, dark mottling and barring on grayish underparts

Greater White-fronted Goose - Anser albifrons

The Greater White-fronted Goose is a common spring migrant in South Dakota, and can also be found during the fall migration.  They have adapted well to a human presence and now rely heavily on waste grain and other agricultural by-products on their wintering grounds.   

Habitat: Breeds on both wet coastal areas and drier inland areas on the Arctic tundra.  In migration and in winter, they are generally found in open habitats where they have easy access to both agricultural fields for feeding and shallow waters for roosting at night.

Diet: Primarily feeds on grasses, sedges, other plants, berries, and buds in the summer.  Relies heavily on seeds and waste grain in the winter, as well as new growth.  They will also occasionally feed on snails and aquatic insects.

Behavior: Often forages on land, walking along and eating food items on the ground.  In the water, swims on the surface, reaching its head and neck under the water for food items.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: High-pitched laughing honk

Migration: Summers on the Arctic tundra.  Winters locally in California, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona, as well as near the U.S. Gulf Coast and Mexico.  They tend to follow established routes and use the same stopover points each season.  They are generally only found west of the Mississippi River.

Similar Species: Snow Goose, in particular, the blue-phase of the Snow Goose.

Conservation Status: Generally stable, although numbers can fluctuate.  For unknown reasons, populations dropped sharply in the 1970s, but rebounded in the 1980s.  Populations still possibly increasing.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Greater White-fronted Goose

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Greater White-fronted Goose

3) eNature.com: Greater White-fronted Goose

4) Whatbird.com: Greater White-fronted Goose

Photo Information: March 20th, 2005 -- Western Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Greater White-fronted Goose photos.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Greater White-fronted Goose - Range map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant in the eastern part of the state, less common in the west.