(2253) Anser albifrons.
The White-fronted Goose.
Branta albifrons Scop., Ann. I, Hist Nat., p. 69 (1789) (North Italy). Anser albifrons, Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 417.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Forehead, from gape to gape broadly white, sometimes including the chin also ; upper tail-coverts white; rest of upper parts dark brown, blackish next the forehead, ashy on the lower back; many feathers pale-edged everywhere ; wing-coverts more grey-brown; greater coverts broadly edged with white forming a wing-bar; primaries dark grey tipped with black; outer secondaries black, inner like the back, tipped paler; tail-feathers dark grey tipped with white; breast and abdomen pale brown heavily blotched with black, the latter sometimes being wholly black; feathers of the sides of breast and flanks brown with pale edges or tips; vent and under tail-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale brown to brown; bill flesh-colour or pale orange-yellow to rosy flesh-colour, the nail paler and whiter; legs and feet reddish flesh-colour to orange-yellow, the webs paler, claws whitish.
Measurements. Wing 393 to 431 mm.; tail 110 to 130 mm.; tarsus 60 to 72 mm.; culmen 43 to 54 mm. The female is very little smaller than the male ; wing 380 to 425 mm.
Weight 4 to 6 lbs.
Young birds have the forehead blackish instead of white ; there is little or no black on the breast and abdomen ; the feathers of the neck are rounded instead of pointed as in the adult; the upper tail-coverts are sometimes marked with brown; the upper parts are browner and less grey.
Nestling in down. Forehead, chin, throat and sides of head and neck buffy-white, tinged ashy; above pale buffy-brown; a dark streak through the eye and a pale wing-band ; lower parts greyish or yellowish-white.
Distribution. Breeds from Lapland through Northern Europe to Western Siberia. Also in Iceland. In Winter it migrates South to all Europe, Northern Africa, India, Burma and China.
Nidification. The White-fronted Goose breeds in May, June and July, either making a good nest of moss, heather and grass thickly lined with white down or, in very dry sites, just a hollow in the soil or dust lined with down. The eggs number four to seven and are of the usual ivory tint, soon becoming dirty and soiled. One hundred eggs average 78.8 x 53.2 mm.: maxima 88.5 x 56.5 and 85.0 x 59.0 mm.; minima 72.0 x 51.0 and 75.6 x 49.2 mm.
Habits. The White-fronted Goose appears in North-West India almost every year in small numbers and also across Northern India to Assam and Manipur, but every where rare. Williams shot one on the Chindwin and Rippon obtained it near Fort Steadman in the Shan States. In parts of Russia the flocks of these Geese collect together in vast numbers when migrating and both Brauner and Alpheraky mention having seen " tens of thousands "together. These when disturbed break up into smaller-flocks. In July and August these Geese, like all others, moult their wing-quills and then, when incapable of flight, are taken in immense numbers by the Samoyeds to stew down for Winter food. Flight, voice and diet are similar to those of other geese but they are said to be very regular in daily visiting water to drink at about noon and again at about 4 p.m., when they are resting in the fields.