Description of the white-fronted goose
The white-fronted goose is one of the favorite birds of hunters. Goose hunting (the second, older name) is officially permitted due to the high population, which will not decrease from a couple of dozen dead birds of this species. Excellent taste of meat, ease of preparation make the bird worthy of the main dish on the table during family holidays.
Description of appearance
The white-fronted goose resembles a gray goose in appearance, but it is slightly smaller in size. When a white-faced chick is born, it is difficult to distinguish it from a gray congener. Only by the age of 4 can you see the features that distinguish this breed from others.
The description of the variety is as follows:
- the abdominal surface of white color has transverse black spots;
- beak in adults pink;
- the frontal part of the head is white (hence the name of this type of goose).
Brown color predominates, which in some places mixes with white feathers. Chicks up to a year have yellow paws with an orange tint. Adults are saturated orange, closer to red. In the photo of the White-breasted goose from various online sources, you can clearly see the features and differences from birds of other species.
Male white-fronted goose in adulthood weighs from 2 to 3.5 kg. Females weigh from 2 to 3 kg. You can distinguish them from far away from gray geese by flight. For beginners, of course, it will be difficult to do this, but an experienced hunter will notice that the White-breasted Geese fly much smoother. Their movements are more graceful. A hunter with experience recognizes the voice of this bird by a higher tone in comparison with gray geese.
Location and lifestyle
The place of refuge for these birds is the tundra. In the tundra, the white-headed goose feels safe; there, thanks to the characteristics of the climate, humidity, flora, they nest in this area. European White-fronted Geese winter on the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Seas. Flocks of white-headed geese fly in the same stream with the gray ones, but a little later, approximately in the middle of spring. When flying, it is important that there is water in the form of lakes and rivers, as well as meadows, islets, where there is at least a small vegetation for feeding.
The white-fronted goose can spend the night not only on land, but also on water. This is quite rare, only when it is far from the coast. When the snow begins to melt in the tundra, a white-headed goose of the breed flies to nest. This usually happens in late spring - early summer. When spring drags on, a flock of winged ones lives on the shallows and grassy islands, where the weather awaits, suitable for hatching chicks.
From about 2 years of age, pairs form in a flock that hold each other during flights. Then part of them nests, and part flies into the tundra much later, not wanting to build a nest for now.
The habitat of geese most of the time is in the tundra. Almost any place in these parts is suitable for hatching chicks. The main conditions are the presence of a freshwater lake or river, an average amount of grassiness. The nest can be located in an open area on a low shrub. On the flooring from a mixture of fluff, dry and fresh grass are eggs. The flooring serves not only to preserve the eggs from injury if they lay on a hard flooring. The female White-headed goose also uses fluff as a defense against possible external enemies. She covers the eggs from the flooring with fluff before flying away to forage.
The number of eggs in one nest varies from 1 to 7 pieces. The color is white, sometimes with a creamy tint. The size of the average egg is approximately 5 x 8 cm. While the female hatches the eggs, the male guards nearby. When an arctic fox attacks, the pair stands in front of the nest and tries to scare away the predator with its wings spread wide. Unfortunately, there are cases of death of geese.
If a person appears on the horizon, then the couple waits for his approach to approximately a distance of 30 m and simultaneously takes off. Birds cannot fly far from the nest, therefore they circle from above until a person leaves this place. Almost a month is the time to incubate eggs. The process of hatching takes about 48 hours.
Food and wintering
White-headed geese are herbivores. Their diet consists of algae, herbs, rhizomes, horsetails, etc. In winter, birds prefer berries. In July, young geese molt. They fly into the tundra, safe places provided by grass and water. Usually this is the coast of the Arctic, where there is a shallow lake and more or less grassy places. Adult bachelors also fly molt along with young ones, but it occurs in older White-headed geese later.
In autumn, White-fronted Geese gather in packs. About 2 months they are preparing for long-distance flights, training in short flights over the tundra. Training is needed. so that new young chicks who have never flown before, get used to flying. At the end of November, White-breasted geese are ready for a difficult journey. Adhering to rivers and lakes, flocks fly toward the west, southwest, south.
The white-fronted goose usually remains to winter in the West of Europe (Great Britain, the Netherlands). The life span of an individual is a little more than 15 years at liberty; in captivity, age can reach 25 years. These birds are not careful, so they often become victims of hunters. However, this does not affect the population, giving freedom of action to lovers of these geese.