The common species of western Europe is the Gray-lag Goose (A. Anser), a bird about thirty-five inches in length, supposed to be the original from which the domestic breeds have sprung. It has the lower back almost gray in color and no conspicuous white on the forehead. The Gray-lag does not go as far north to breed as do many of the Geese, and is the only species nesting at the present time in Great Britain. Of its habits, Mr. Hudson says: ” The Gray-lag Goose pairs for life, and is gregarious, but is said not to associate with Geese of other species. It feeds on grass and young shoots, and in autumn on grain, and spends nearly the whole day in feeding, and at dark resorts to some level open space to roost, where it is almost impossible to approach within gun-shot of the flock, owing to its watchfulness. The Gray-lag makes a large nest of weeds and grass, lined with moss, and lays six eggs, sometimes a larger number. During incubation the gander keeps guard over his mate, and afterward assists her in rearing the young. These are led back to the nest every evening by the goose, and sleep under her wing.” In Siberia the place is taken by a slightly larger form (A. rubrirostris), distinguished mainly by having the base of the upper mandible bright red. This bird spends the winter in northern India and southern China.
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