Observations on the incubation and post-hatching behaviour of the Greenland White-fronted Goose

David A Stroud


A behavioural study during the summer of 1979 in west Greenland of the incubation and immediate post-hatching period of two Greenland White-fronted Goose Anser albifrons flavirostris nests is reported, totalling about 500 hours of continuous observation. At the time of clutch completion the male stood a few metres from the nest, but later moved away and spent the rest of the incubation period feeding on a nearby marsh. At hatching he moved closer to the nest once more. Both sexes show strong diurnal rhythmicity, being most alert when predator activity is at a maximum. The significance of these cycles is discussed with reference to other arctic diurnal cycles. The male shows a significant increase in time spent vigilant over the incubation period which affects the time apportioned to other activities such as grazing. The female left the nest roughly once a day at a constant time (low predator activity) and for a constant period; however, the frequency of these recesses increased throughout incubation. At the time of hatch, both sexes markedly changed their behaviour, the male becoming more attentive allowing the female to spend longer feeding. The significance of this change is discussed and the association of an immature goose with a nesting pair is mentioned. The results of the study are compared with previous work undertaken on the densely nesting Pink-footed Goose A. brachyrhynchus.

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