Identification of White-fronted Goose

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Swans and Geese | (Greater) White-fronted Goose Anser Albifrons |  Identification of White-fronted Goose

Identification of Greater white-fronted goose

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) is a species of goose. The greater white-fronted goose is closely related to the smaller lesser white-fronted goose (A. erythropus). In Europe it has been known as simply "white-fronted goose"; in North America it is known as the greater white-fronted goose (or "greater whitefront"), and this name is also increasingly adopted internationally.It is named for the patch of white feathers bordering the base of its bill. But even more distinctive are the salt-and-pepper markings on the breast of adult birds, which is why the goose is colloquially called the "specklebelly" in North America.
Greater white-fronted geese are 64–81 cm (25–32 in) in length, have a 130–165 cm (51–65 in) wingspan and weigh 1.93–3.31 kg (4.3–7.3 lb).They have bright orange legs and mouse-coloured upper wing-coverts. They are smaller than greylag geese. As well as being larger than the lesser white-fronted goose, the greater white-fronted goose lacks the yellow eye-ring of that species, and the white facial blaze does not extend upwards so far as in lesser.

The male is typical larger in size, both sexes are similar in appearance—greyish brown birds with light grey breasts dappled with dark brown to black blotches and bars. Both males and females also have a pinkish bill and orange legs and feet.

Differences between European and Greenland birds

The appearance of European or Russian white-fronted geese, of the race albifrons and Greenland white-fronted geese, of the race flavirostris, differ in a number of ways. The Greenland white-fronted goose, in all plumages, looks darker and more 'oily-looking' than the European white-fronted goose, both at rest and in flight.

The following are the differences which apply to first-winter plumage:

The mantle and scapulars of flavirostris have narrow, indistinct pale fringes creating a uniform appearance to the birds' upperparts, whereas albifrons has noticeable whitish fringes creating obviously barred upperparts
The tertials of flavirostris have indistinct pale fringes, whereas these pale fringes are more noticeable on albifrons
The lesser- and median-upperwing-coverts of flavirostris have narrow, indistinct pale fringes, creating a rather uniform appearance to the wing, whereas on albifrons, these fringes are prominent and broad, creating wing-bars
The greater-coverts of flavirostris are dark grey, with a narrow white tip, forming a narrow wing-bar; on albifrons they are blue-grey, with prominent white tips, forming a bold wing-bar
The flank-line is narrows and white on flavirostris, but broad and bright white on albifrons
The tail of flavirostris is dark brown, with a very narrow white tip and sides; that of albifrons is dark grey, and the white tip and sides are at least double the width of the corresponding areas on flavirostris
The bill of flavirostris is orange-yellow with a dark nail, compared with the bright pink bill of albifrons which has only a hint of dark on the nail; in addition the bill of flavirostris is longer and appears slimmer than that of albifrons.

The belly-barring on adult birds is on average more extensive on flavirostris than on albifrons, but the individual variation in both forms renders this of limited use as an identification feature.

The bill of adult Greenland white-fronts are also orange-yellow at the base, but can be more pinkish-yellow on the outer-half, thus close in colour to European white-fronts; the colour difference is more easily determined in dull, flat light rather than bright sunshine.

The Birder's Market | Resource | Birds of Britain and Europe ID Guide | Swans and Geese | (Greater) White-fronted Goose Anser Albifrons |  Identification of White-fronted Goose

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