Breeding across the tundra from Nunavut to Siberia, across Russia, and in Greenland, the Greater White-fronted Goose has one of the largest ranges of any species of goose in the world. In North America, however, it is common only west of the Mississippi River, where it is found in large flocks in wetlands and croplands.
The Tule goose is a large, dark subspecies of the Greater White-fronted Goose. This form breeds just around Cook Inlet in Alaska, and numbers only about 7,500. It winters in the Sacramento Valley of California, where it meets the more widespread subspecies. The Tule goose uses primarily marshes while the other form forages in open fields.
As is true of many geese, Greater White-fronted Goose pairs stay together for years and migrate together, along with their offspring. White-front family bonds can last longer than in most geese, and some young stay with their parents through the next breeding season. Parent and sibling associations may continue throughout their lives.
A smaller, but very similar goose is found in northern Asia and Europe. It is known as the Lesser White-fronted Goose and is the reason our goose is known as the "Greater." Dwarf species seem to have appeared repeatedly in geese. Other similar pairs are the Ross's and Snow geese and Cackling and Canada geese.
The Greater White-fronted Goose subspecies that breeds in Greenland usually winters in Ireland and Scotland. It occasionally turns up on the East Coast of North America. It is slightly larger than the typical American form, and has a brighter orange (less pink) bill, but telling them apart definitively is difficult.