Portal to the Lesser White-fronted Goose

- by the Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose project

Literature type: General

Journal: Die Vogelwelt

Volume: 141 , Pages: 101-110

Language: English

Full reference: Kruckenberg, H. & Krüger, T. 2023. Current status of the Lesser White-fronted Goose Anser erythropus in Northwest Germany (Lower Saxony and Bremen), an important stop-over and wintering area. Die Vogelwelt: 141, 101-110

Keywords: reintrodcution, hunting, Germany, numbers, distribution


Since the 1950s Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus decreased dramatically all over the wide-spread breeding area (Mikander 2015). Nowadays Lesser Whitefronts are one of the most endangered waterbird species in Europe (BirdLife International 2015). Krüger & Kruckenberg (2011) could show that the species has been frequently observed in Lower Saxony since the beginning of the 20th century. From 2012-2015 a research project of NABU Lower Saxony intensively investigated the importance of Northwest Germany for this species. As a result we present new and supplemented data on the occurrence of Lesser White-fronts in Lower-Saxony for the period 1980–2016. In this period, a strong increase in the number of observations occurred, such that Lesser White-fronted Goose has stated as a regular, annually occurring migratory bird in Lower Saxony. The number of observations in Lower Saxony peaked in the years of 1999/2000 to 2007/08 and decreased thereafter. A clear pattern in spatial distribution can be identified in the northwest of Lower Saxony in the region of East Frisia. This includes the Dollard-Lower Ems-Region (Rheiderland, Emsmarschen) with the Krummhörn, including Leybucht, which are key sites for the species. Other important sites are the Middle Elbe and the Lower Elbe. Unfortunately, information about the origin of the birds is rare. More than half of the Swedish Lesser Whitefronts are colour-marked, but the occurrence of many unmarked birds presumably consists of a mixture of Russian and Norwegian birds. Taken together all data show Lower Saxony (Northwest Germany) as a part of the range of Lesser White-fronted Geese migrate to The Netherlands and probably also for wintering individuals. So, this should be incorporate in legislative protection (f.e. key species in Bird sanctuaries or hunting regulation).

Literature type: Thesis

Language: English

Full reference: Mandila, J.M. 2015. Problems of translocation: case study Lesser White-fronted Goose. , B.Sc. Thesis. Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources, Freiburg, Germany.

Keywords: reintroduction, evaluation, translocation, thesis, Germany, Sweden


In order to prevent extinction of the endangered Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Goose (LWfG) population, several translocation attempts have been conducted since 1981. Reintroductions prior to 2010 were based on captive birds. By altering the species migration route, the birds were led from former breeding grounds of the Fennoscandian population to safer wintering grounds in Western Europe. The subsequent detection of introgression from other goose genes among the source population led to further releases being put on hold. However, hybridization may be a natural phenomena among LWfG, although research supporting such a view is scarce and the data used questionable, probably relying on samples from escapees. Furthermore, reintroduction by means of using a non traditional route has been criticised due to the change in habitat selection and feeding behaviour of the released population. More recently, releases have been carried out with pure bred LWfG using the traditional route to Western Europe. Although this supports the view that the migration route used is an earlier traditional one which got lost as a result of the decline in the Fennoscandian population, analysis of the supporting data shows that the evidence is too scarce to make such an assumption. Since reintroduction is threatening the wild LWfG genetically and ecologically due to the adoption of genetic traits and behaviour caused by inter-breeding with the released population, the restricted resources of suitable birds should be kept for possible future supplementation of the Fennoscandian population in accordance with the IUCN Guidelines. Furthermore, in order to maintain the wild population and lead to its recovery to a favourable conservation status, efforts should concentrate on the reduction of threats along the traditional migration route and the restoration of its natural habitats.

Literature type: General

Journal: Goose Bulletin

Volume: 17 , Pages: 10-18.

Language: English


Full reference: Kruckenberg, H. & Krüger, T. 2013. Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus in Lower Saxony (NW Germany) – status, distribution and numbers 1900–2007. Goose Bulletin: 17, 10-18.

Keywords: status, distribution, numbers, Germany, Lower Saxony


In the period from 1907/08 to 2006/07, i.e. 100 winters, 156 records of 261 Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus were reported in Lower Saxony. The first records were from 9 December 1907. For the period before 1970, only accidental occurrences were reported. A large increase in the number of records occurred in the 1990s and continued in the 2000s. Since the mid-1990s, the Lesser White-fronted Goosehas become a regular, annually occurring migratory bird in Lower Saxony. There is evidence of a concentration of records in the north-west of Lower Saxony in the region of East Frisia, especially in the Dollart-Lower Ems-Region (Rheiderland, Emsmarschen) and the Krummhörn including Leybucht, which are key sites of the occurrence. Other important sites are the Middle Elbe and the Lower Elbe. During autumn migration, the first Lesser White-fronted Geese reach Lower Saxony in mid-October. From early December the numbers rise steadily until early March and peak in the first decade of March (median = 2 March). After that the numbers decrease but birds remain until the first third of April at a relatively high level, and birds are gone by the end of April. In 139 cases (92.1%), Lesser White-fronted Geese were recorded only on a single day, longer stays were reported only twelve times (7.9%, n = 151 records), the longest 27 days, indicating overwintering. About 93% of all observations of Lesser White-fronted Geese refer to birds which were associated in only small flocks of three individuals, and often only single birds (68.6%) occurred (n = 156 flocks and 261 ind.). “Large” flocks have been recorded rarely. 141 Lesser White-fronted Geese were reported as adult birds (86.5%), with only 21 individuals identified as juveniles (13.5%, n = 163). In 75% of records since the mid-1990s (73%, n = 70 records) Lesser White-fronted Geese were roosting with White-fronted Geese A. albifrons. In 19% of the records they were with Barnacle Geese Branta bernicla, and in 9 % with Greylag Geese A. anser. There is a high likelihood of confusion between Lesser White-fronted Geese and Whitefronted Geese during goose hunting, which is usually practiced at dusk at the night roosts of both species. Therefore, to collect data for better protection of Lesser Whitefronted Geese in Lower Saxony we started a new research programme in autumn 2012 involving field research, satellite tracking and colour-marking as well as an awareness campaign for birders, hunters and the general public.

Literature type: Scientific

Journal: Biological Conservation

Volume: 84 , Pages: 47-52.

DOI: 10.1016/S0006-3207(97)00088-8

Language: English

Full reference: Lorentsen, S.-H., Øien, I.J., Aarvak, T. 1998. Migration of Fennoscandian Lesser White-fronted Geese Anser erythropus mapped by satellite telemetry. Biological Conservation 84: 47-52. https://www.dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(97)00088-8

Keywords: migration, satellite tracking, Norway, Russia, Germany, Hungary, Greece, Evros delta, Ob


Since staging and wintering sites of the globally threatened lesser white-fronted goose Anser erythropus are poorly known, satellite transmitters were used to map autumn and winter migration routes of four individuals. After having spent c. 2 weeks at a post-moulting staging place in Finnmark, north Norway, all individuals flew directly to the Kanin Peninsula, northwest Russia. Later, two of the geese migrated along a westerly route to East Germany, where one of the geese disappeared, and to Hungary and Greece. The other two individuals followed an easterly route. One was shot close to the west side of the Ural mountains, whereas the other individual disappeared in the Ob valley, Russia. The results might indicate a higher hunting pressure along the eastern route than along the western route.

Literature type: Book

Language: German (In German)


Full reference: Brehm, C.L. 1831. [Handbuch der Naturgeschichte aller Vögel Deutschlands, worin nach den sorgfältigsten Untersuchungen und den genauesten Beobachtungen mehr als 900 einheimische Vögel-Gattung zur Bergründung einer ganz neuen Ansicht und Behandlung ihrer Naturgeschichte voll] , Druck und Verlag von Bernh. Frieder. Voigt, Ilmenau.

Keywords: Germany, nomenclature, systematics, anser brevirostris, Heckel, medius,

Number of results: 5