Bird Families

About the goose white-fronted goose: description of the bird


North of Eurasia from Norway to the Chukchi Range. Winters in the Southeastern Caspian Sea, the Azov-Black Sea coast, the Balkans, as well as in Iraq.

Features of morphology

Body length - 51-60 cm. The body is brownish-gray, dark brown transverse stripes are clearly visible on the chest and belly, the undertail is white. On the forehead there is a white spot, the upper edge of which extends beyond the back line of the eyes. Around the eyes there is a yellow orbital ring, pink paws. Young are brownish, without dark stripes below and white spots on the forehead.

Features of biology

It nests in the tundra and forest-tundra zone on steep river banks, in the mountain landscape - on rocks. In Crimea, it is a migratory and wintering species. Autumn migration takes place at the end of October - November. During the winter, it prefers to stay in open biotopes near the sea coasts and large bodies of water, in flocks with white-fronted goose. Few (tens, perhaps hundreds of individuals), at the beginning of the XXI century. the number has decreased markedly. It departs in mid-February, the spring migration continues until the end of March. It feeds on vegetative parts of plants, mainly winter crops.

General characteristics

In Latin, the name of the species sounds like Anser erythropus.

The dimensions of the lesser white-fronted goose: the body length reaches 60 cm, the wingspan is 1 m 30 cm. The weight is from 1.5 to 2.5 kg.

The plumage of the bird is colored dark gray, brown, white and yellow. The chest and sides are covered with dark feathers, and the belly is light.

Sexual dimorphism is expressed in external differences. The male's neck is a quarter longer than that of the female.

The Lesser White-fronted Goose is similar to its fellow white-fronted goose. Let's consider a number of distinctive features, which include:

  • steep forehead,
  • short, thick neck,
  • small head size,
  • yellow paws,
  • narrow, short pink beak,
  • long, but not wide wings,
  • white spot on the forehead
  • the area around the eyes is covered with yellow feathers.

The geography of the species

Lesser white-fronted goose is a bird common in the north of Russia. The nesting sites of the species are located on the territory from the Kola Peninsula to the Far East. Geese settle in the tundra, forest-tundra and taiga. They choose areas with swampy bogs, where there are many dense bushes and thickets, and there are also rocky areas.

The number of this species is decreasing, and in some regions it was included in the Red Book. The modern range of the lesser white-fronted goose is represented by separate fragments.

Lesser White-fronted Goose is a migratory bird. For the winter, it flies to the coast of the Black and Mediterranean Seas. Lives in China, Azerbaijan, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, Croatia and other warm areas.

Features of migrations

Flights to warmer regions for wintering are carried out due to the search for better conditions for living and food. Lesser white-fronted geese are mobile and can travel long distances. They fly quickly, although from the outside it seems that this is not so.

In the fall, there is a purposeful preparation for flights. Departure time is September, October. To train and prepare youngsters, the starshaki conduct training flights.

The birds form wedge-shaped flocks or line up diagonally. At the head are experienced and powerful leaders who know how to lead the pack. On their way to the south, the geese stop near water bodies for feeding and rest.

In early spring, geese return to their permanent nesting sites. Arrival time is from April to June.

Lifestyle and behavior

With a squeaky voice, geese signal to each other during long flights. In the same way, they communicate, looking for food for themselves. And during mating games, the sounds of males become coarser and louder. and females, on the contrary, are softer and quieter.

The goose feeds on plant and animal food: berries, fruits, seeds of cereal plants, grass, insects. The search for food takes place on land, although the bird actively swims in the water.

Lesser white-fronted geese run fast and nimbly. They like to stand on one leg.

Geese molt once a year. To protect themselves from predators at this particularly vulnerable time, birds huddle in flocks and hide in thickets of tall grass and bushes.

The lowlands of rivers, lakes, streams, coastal reeds and sow thistles attract geese. In bushes, among stones and bumps, they arrange their nests and hatch chicks.

The nest of the Lesser White-fronted Goose is uncomplicated and inconspicuous - it is a small hole where the bird puts reed stalks, feathers and down.

Reproduction and rearing of offspring

During the breeding season, which lasts from April to July, these schooling birds begin to lead a solitary life. The male actively looks after the female. If his flirting ends with the favor of the female, then the couple begins to reproduce their own kind.

Together, the couple builds a nest and prepares to incubate.

Usually there are 4-6 eggs in a clutch. During the month, while the female incubates eggs, she becomes vulnerable and can become an easy prey for predators. The male zealously guards the chosen one and future offspring. In case of danger, it flies away from the nest, distracting enemies with a squeak.

The eggs are colored white and yellow. Chicks hatch after 25-28 days. Both parents are involved in their upbringing. Geese look after the offspring, teach them how to swim in the water, find food, and teach them how to fly. But the most important task for parents is to ensure the safety of young goslings.

Chicks of brood-type Lesser White-fronted Goose - they are adapted to early independent life. They are born with downy feathers. Literally immediately they begin to run quickly and peck at food. By the age of 2, these are already full-fledged sexually mature birds, ready to reproduce offspring.

In nature, the lesser white-fronted goose lives for about 5-12 years. In captivity, these birds can live up to 30 years.

Human relationship

The factors affecting the decline in the number of the species are hunting in wintering grounds for geese, as well as frequent poisoning of birds with chemical substances.

One of the common limiting factors is the destruction of habitual habitats: draining water bodies, cutting down shrubs.

This species is protected by humans. Geese are bred in the Moscow Zoo and in the reserve on the Kanin Peninsula in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug.

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During the nesting period, Lesser White-fronted Goose occurs in the mountainous northern taiga, inhabiting the forest-tundra and the southern part of the tundra of Eurasia from the north of the Scandinavian Peninsula to the Anadyr valley. Since 1978 no nesting has been observed on the Kola Peninsula. Data on the breeding of Lesser White-fronted Goose on the Kanin Peninsula have not been found in recent decades. There is a known case of breeding on Novaya Zemlya.

In the rest of the European tundra of Russia, the bird nests only in the east of the Bolshezemelskaya tundra. In Timanskaya, Malozemelskaya and in the west of Bolshezemelskaya tundra, it has not been found in recent years. In Western Siberia, it breeds in the Southern and Middle Yamal, in the space between the Ob and Yenisei during the breeding time.

For the territory of Taimyr, at present, several scattered breeding grounds are known, left over from the once continuous range. In the western half of Yakutia, Lesser White-fronted Goose was found in the Vilyui basin. Until the 1940s, it was widespread and common in these places.

The eastern part of Yakutia, where previously the nesting area was continuous, after 1980 only 6 places were found where the Lesser White-fronted Goose continues to nest. Populates the basin of the r. Anadyr. Winters on the shores of the North, Mediterranean, Black and Caspian Seas, also in the Danube basin. On the shores of the Pacific Ocean - in Japan, Korea and China.


It chooses a place for nesting on the ledges of rocky cliffs in the lower reaches of tundra rivers, near mountain lakes, as well as in willows, hummocks and among rarely scattered stones. In winter, it keeps in open spaces with a good view, overgrown with grassy vegetation, hodgepodge and in semi-desert places.

"Ground" goose, walks and runs well. It feeds on plant foods. In the western part of Lapland, it arrives in spring in the first half of May and begins nesting in late May. Appears on the Ainov Islands in mid-May. In clutch there are usually 4 - 6 eggs, less often up to 8. Incubation lasts 26 days.

On the Ainov Islands, west of Lake Imandra in the Lapland Nature Reserve and in the Kandalaksha Bay, small nomadic groups were most often observed in June. Almost never met in the fall.


The data on the number are insufficient due to the peculiarities of the ecology. The number in the Bolshezemelskaya tundra in the 70s was estimated at 3,600 - 5,400 birds, in the 90s, 500 - 1,000 birds.

In the river basin Pike in the south of Yamal in the early 1980s, the number was estimated at 10,000 individuals, but studies in 1996-1998 showed a sharp decline in the distribution and abundance of Lesser White-fronted Goose in this region. The population in Taimyr in the 70s was estimated at 110,000 individuals. The total world population was 100,000 - 130,000 individuals.

Analysis of the modern distribution and abundance of the Lesser White-fronted Goose in Taimyr showed that the range of the species in the region in the 90s was only 8% of the range of the 60s and 20% of the range of the late 70s and early 80s. The current autumn population is 8,000 - 12,000 individuals.

In the eastern part of Russia, the number for individual regions has not been determined, but it is constantly and sharply decreasing. An expert estimate of the number of 6,000 individuals in the space from the mouth of the Khatanga to the Bering Strait is not confirmed by the data of winter counts in China, where on Lake Poyang and Donting in the valley of the river. The Yangtze in 1988-1997 counted 9,800-14,000 birds.

At European wintering grounds in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, the total number did not exceed 1,000 - 1,200 individuals. In Romania, in 1989, 1,000 lesser white-fronted goose were counted, and in 1996, none. In Hungary, in 1993-1994, 1,200 birds were counted, in Bulgaria in 1996 no more than 20-40 individuals, in the winter of 1997-1998 no more than 100 birds, although in the early 90s, 1,000 individuals were counted.

Limiting factors include:

  • change and pollution of nesting sites,
  • anxiety during nesting,
  • poaching.


Lesser white-fronted goose is included in the IUCN-96 Red List, Appendix II of the Bonn Convention, Appendix II of the Berne Convention, Appendices of bilateral agreements concluded by Russia with Japan, the Republic of Korea, the DPRK and India on the protection of migratory birds. Protected in the Shoininsky nature reserve on the Kanin peninsula. Contained at the Moscow Zoo.

To preserve the species, it is necessary to create protected areas, including critical areas of habitats - all plots within 500 m from the nest and the place of regular appearance. It is recommended to educate the population, especially hunters.

It is required to create high-quality field guides for the population, to form an appropriate public opinion on the problems of protecting rare bird species and spring hunting for waterfowl.

Important! The species is protected in all countries where it is found, hunting is prohibited everywhere.

Threat factors

Poaching, accidental prey while hunting for a white-fronted goose, poisoning with pesticides, extreme winter cold snaps.

Security measures

Listed in Appendix II of the Berne Convention, Appendix I and II of the Bonn Convention, Appendix II of the AEWA Agreement. Protected in the Crimean nature reserve (in the cluster "Swan Islands"), the state nature reserve "Astana Plavni". It is necessary to create protected areas on the Sivash, popularize knowledge about protected species among hunters.

Sources of information

Kostin, 1983, Kostin et al., 1998, Grinchenko, 2001, Grinchenko et al., 2003, Tarina, Kostin, 2011, Andryushchenko, Popenko, 2012.

Compiled by: V. N. Kucherenko A photo: I. I. Ukolov

Bird features and habitat

The body length of an adult male reaches 65-72 cm, and the wingspan is slightly more than a meter. The average bird weight is about 2-2.4 kg. The plumage color of the Lesser White-fronted Goose is extremely reminiscent of ordinary geese, which are bred at home: brownish and gray shades, mixed with each other.

A characteristic feature of the lesser white-fronted goose is its dark beak and yellowish paws. By the shade of plumage, there is no way to distinguish between a female and a male. A sign of gender difference is the neck of these geese, which is about 35 percent shorter in the female than in the male. Below the plumage of these birds is lighter, and the fluff in the lower part of the body is much more. Outwardly, the Lesser White-fronted Goose is very similar to a white-fronted goose. The only difference is in size - the white-forehead is often smaller. In addition, there is a yellow border around the eyes of the lesser white-fronted goose, and on the forehead there is a characteristic speck of white color, extending to the very crown.

Most often, the Lesser White-fronted Goose lives in areas with mountainous or semi-mountainous terrain. Bird nesting sites are located near small streams, rivers or small lakes. They feel maximum comfort in the taiga, forest-tundra terrain or in a landscape with large bushes, in estuaries and remote places near swamps.

You can meet the Lesser White-fronted Goose in the north of Eurasia, where it borders on the tundra, as well as in Anadyr, on the Kola and Scandinavian p / o. This species of birds is considered migratory. Wintering of Lesser White-fronted Goose takes place on the Black Sea coast, near the Caspian Sea, in Greece, China, Hungary, Azerbaijan or Romania.

Most often, the Lesser White-fronted Goose erects nests near various bodies of water, but for the nesting itself, a dry piece of land is needed on small hills. Sometimes the nests of these birds can be seen on reed heaps or floats - this is a small dimple lined with a reed stem or fluff.

White-fronted goose behavior and lifestyle

This goose is extremely cautious and suspicious, especially being in its flock. But all the prudence of the bird disappears at the moment when the females are watching the offspring or hatching eggs. In such cases, the Lesser White-fronted Goose may accidentally let you very close to the nest.

Representatives of this species of birds fly very quickly, but for an outside observer, their flight usually seems rather slow. During the flight to warmer places, the Lesser White-fronted Goose fly rather high.

The flight takes place in the form of a V-shaped wedge or an extended wavy line. On the ground, the lesser white-fronted goose moves with a rather firm and strong gait. Also, these birds are able to run quite briskly and quickly.

You can often see a Lesser White-fronted Goose standing on one of its legs. Such a goose is a schooling bird, but when they breed, they are with their pair in a separate nesting place.

What do lesser white-fronted goose eat

Any birds that belong to anseriformes can eat both plants and animal products. It is such a varied diet that allows them to live and develop as fully as possible.

Despite the fact that the lesser white-fronted goose loves water procedures and bathing, it is still classified as a terrestrial bird. In accordance with this, its diet consists mostly of what grows on the earth's surface.

A common food for the Lesser White-fronted Goose is green spring grass, which this season is distinguished not only by its juiciness, but also by the saturation of mineral and vitamin compounds that any animals need after the winter is over.

The lesser white-fronted goose loves to eat leaves and stems from young shrubs and trees. If a flock of birds lives in a place where fields of various crops are located nearby, the Lesser White-fronted Goose often begins to visit them, preferring to feast on cultivated plants.

Among the many grasses, these geese love wheat, oats, sedge, and alfalfa. In summer, the Lesser White-fronted Goose does not neglect fruit, adores mulberries and horsetails. For the most part, this bird takes food in the morning and evening, spending the day on the water surface.

Reproduction of Lesser White-fronted Goose

During the mating season, the male white-fronted goose needs to conquer and conquer the female. In the opposite situation, the pair simply will not form.A family arises only after observing all the rules of mating games.

An adult goose needs a variety of methods to attract the attention of a goose that he liked. And if the male managed to achieve that the female turned her gaze on him, then in this case the pair is finally formed. The goose gives her consent to the marriage.

In the future, the male and the female begin to arrange the nest, jointly creating a small hole, which they then cover with moss, fluff and plant stalks. When the nest is formed, the goose can begin laying and incubating eggs.

It takes a goose approximately 27 days to hatch. Subsequently, offspring appears, and both parents are engaged in raising it. The goose and the goose throw all their strength into saving the life of their valuable offspring.

In addition, both parents teach them all the necessary knowledge. Chicks grow and develop rather quickly, acquiring complete independence, the ability to fly and get food, by the age of three months.

A year later, the chicks turn into adults, becoming able to also have offspring. But at the same time, they prefer to be close to their parents. In natural conditions, white-fronted goose live for about 12 years, and in home conditions, the life span can reach 30 years.

Lifestyle. Food

White-fronted geese are birds accustomed to a terrestrial lifestyle. They arrive at reservoirs for the purpose of watering, as well as during the molting period. Despite this, white-fronted geese know how to swim and dive perfectly, which they use, for example, in a moment of danger.

They build their nests near rivers, lakes and marshes, and in the tundra they choose for this place, abundantly overgrown with grass. Often, the nest is built on a certain elevation - on a hummock or hillock. The nest itself is simple, the female simply pulls out a hole and covers it with fluff and grass.

White-fronted goose feeding photo

Most of the day, the flock is in the area where it feeds. And geese feed on juicy young grass. During her absence, grains of wheat, oats, etc. After the meal, the whole group goes together to a watering hole. White-fronted geese adhere to this daily routine at a safe time.

If they are hunted or threatened by predators, their lifestyle changes somewhat, in addition, they fly away from their settled place and look for a new refuge. These geese sense danger well and try to find in advance a place inaccessible to enemies. Adult white-fronted geese molt only once - in summer.

a couple of white-fronted geese photos

Molting in young individuals occurs twice a year:

  • Full - carried out in July - August,
  • Partial - lasts from September to January.

Lesser White-fronted Goose is a rare, protected bird

Outwardly, the bird resembles a white-fronted goose, but only of a smaller size.

Therefore, ornithologists sometimes call it a small white-fronted goose or a small goose. The body weight of the bird is small and ranges from one and a half to two kilograms. The color of the plumage is dominated by gray and brown tones. Against the general background, there are more dark-colored breasts, craw and sides, they are covered with brownish-black feathers, and the belly and undertail with beautiful white plumage.

A distinctive feature of the Lesser White-fronted Goose is a white spot located on the crown of the head. The bird has a short, reddish beak.

Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus).

To build a nest, the Lesser White-fronted Goose chooses the shores of reservoirs in the northern regions, in the tundra and forest-tundra. The geography of distribution of the species is quite extensive: from the Kola Peninsula to the Far East. The bird hibernates in the Crimea, Transcaucasia, on the Black Sea.

Lesser white-fronted goose is a rare bird.

With the onset of spring, flocks of birds rush to their permanent nesting sites, where they appear in April and arrive until the beginning of June. Lesser white-fronted goose chooses secluded places in the lower reaches of small mountain rivers, on the shores of lakes. The bird's nest is simple, usually located among bushes, less often on rocks, but always close to a reservoir.

Flight of the Lesser White-fronted Goose.

The female lays 4-8 eggs colored light yellow. The diet of the Lesser White-fronted Goose consists mainly of plants that it finds on the shore of the reservoir. During molting, which happens once a year, the bird behaves extremely cautiously and strays into flocks, they can be found during feeding. During this difficult period, she escapes from enemies by fleeing by land, in addition, the Lesser White-fronted Goose swims well.

Lesser white-fronted goose swims well.

In search of food, disordered flocks can make small flights. But with the onset of autumn, the birds make training flights, lining up with an angle or an inclined line. With this construction, all the main load during movement goes to the first bird, it must be the strongest and most enduring.

Lesser white-fronted goose feasts on food kindly prepared for her.

For wintering, schools of white-fronted goose fly away in September or October. But its presence can be found on many bodies of water encountered on the way of migration of this rare bird. In the European and Asian parts of our homeland, schools of white-fronted goose stop to feed and fly further to warm wintering areas.

The bird's voice is interesting, it is distinguished by a special squeakiness, this fact was the reason for the appearance of the species name - Lesser White-fronted Goose. At present, the number of birds is greatly reduced, due to the drying up of reservoirs, the development of new territories by humans, the death of egg clutches from various reasons, and of course, at the hands of poachers. Lesser white-fronted goose is a rare bird species listed in the Red Book.

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Character and lifestyle

The Lesser White-fronted Goose is a very wary bird, especially when it is in a flock. But, when females incubate eggs and hatch offspring, their caution disappears, and they can admit to themselves at a very close distance. Birds fly fast enough, although from the side their flight may seem slow. During migration to warmer regions, the flight of gray geese is carried out at a high altitude.

During such flights, they move mainly in a wavy line or V-shaped wedge. They have a firm and confident gait on the earth's surface. In addition, Lesser White-fronted Goose can run quickly and nimbly. They often prefer to stand on one limb. This is a schooling bird. But during breeding seasons, it prefers solitude with its mate and nests separately.


The Lesser White-fronted Goose lives throughout the northern part of Eurasia, although in the European part of the continent their number has significantly decreased in recent decades and is under threat of extinction. Wintering places: the shores of the Black and Caspian Seas, Hungary, Romania, Azerbaijan and China.

Small, artificially restored, settlements of these birds are found in Finland, Norway, Sweden. The largest wild populations are found in Taimyr and Yakutia. To date, the number of this species, according to scientists, does not exceed 60-75 thousand individuals.

For its nesting White-fronted Piskulka chooses mountainous, or semi-mountainous, rocky terrain covered with shrubs near water bodies, floodplains, swamps, estuaries. Street nests on elevations: hummocks, marshes, while making small depressions in them and lining them with moss, fluff and reeds.

Before creating a pair, the birds look closely at each other for a long time, conduct mating games. The male flirts with the female for a long time, tries to attract her attention with dances and loud cackles. Only after the goose makes a choice, the couple starts breeding.

Often, Lesser White-fronted Goose lays from 3 to 5 eggs of a pale yellow color, which only the female incubates for a month. Goslings are born completely independent, they grow and develop quickly: at three months they are already fully formed young animals. Sexual maturity in this species occurs in a year, the average life expectancy is 5-12 years.

The flock leaves their homes with the beginning of the first cold weather: in late August, early September. They always fly with a key or an inclined line, the leader of the pack is the most experienced and hardy representative.