The Tule Goose (Anser albifrons elgasi), or rather, the Tule White-fronted Goose, is one of two subspecies of the Greater White-fronted Goose found in North America. This white-fronted subspecies also has the smallest population of all other goose subspecies. While there are about 600,000-700,000 Pacific white-fronts, there are only 15,000 or fewer Tules.
Tule Geese and Greater White-fronted Geese wings are similar. Compared to the Pacific White-fronted Goose, the Tule Goose is larger, darker plumage, especially on head, neck and back, with larger, more massive bill. It usually has less speckling on the underbelly but this is variable among individuals, making it a poor diagnostic for identification. This subspecies has also been noted to display a dark brown patch above the eye.
Breeding range is in the Cook Inlet in Alaska and are known to winter in the Sacramento Valley of California where they prefer to nest and forage in wetlands. Their migration appears to be a straight line taking them from Alaska directly into certain areas of the Sacramento Valley.
Wintering Range in California (PDF of Tule Greater White-fronted Goose account from: Shuford, W. D., and Gardali, T., editors. 2008. California Bird Species of Special Concern: A ranked assessment of species, subspecies, and distinct populations of birds of immediate conservation concern in California. Studies of Western Birds 1. Western Field Ornithologists, Camarillo, California, and California Department of Fish and Game, Sacramento.)
While Tule geese mix among Pacific white-fronts on the wintering grounds, it’s been said that you’re less likely to find tule geese in flooded pastures or grain fields than their white-fronted counterparts. They prefer to feed on the roots, tubers and lower parts of marsh plants such as alkali bulrush and American three-square bulrush.