Tag Archives: greater snow goose

Ross’ Goose

Latin: Chen rossii
Average length: M 25″, F 23″
Average weight: M 4.0 lbs., F 3.6 lbs.

Description: Ross’ geese are the smallest of the three varieties of white geese that breed in North America. The Ross’ goose is a small white goose with black primary feathers. The bill is a deep reddish-pink with a paler nail and a variably bluish warty area over the base of the basal area. The legs and feet are rose-pink and the iris is dark brown. The sexes are dimorphic, with the female being 6 percent smaller than the male. The Ross’ goose has a relatively short neck and lacks the black “grinning patch” that is typical of greater and lesser snow geese, for which it is often mistaken. Ross’ geese may be distinguished from snow geese by their smaller size, more rapid wing beat and higher-pitched call.

Breeding: Ross’ geese breed in the low arctic tundra, mainly near Queen Maud Gulf, southern Southampton Island, the western coast of Hudson Bay and the Sagavanirktok River delta in Alaska. They usually nest in colonies mixed with lesser snow geese, making their nests on the ground in sparsely vegetated areas. Female Ross’ geese lay an average of 3-4 eggs.

Migrating and Wintering: Ross’ geese are among the first to leave the breeding grounds in Canada. The California Central Valley is currently the main wintering area for Ross’ geese, but increasing numbers are wintering in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and the north-central highlands of Mexico.

Food habits: Ross’ geese feed on grasses, sedges and small grains, particularly waste wheat and barley in the winter months.

Greater Snow Goose


Latin: Anser caerulescens atlantica
Average length: M 31″, F 30″
Average weight: M 7.4 lbs., F 6.1 lbs.

Description: The greater snow goose is a slightly larger edition of the white-phase lesser snow goose. No color dimorphism has been discovered in this race. In the field it is virtually impossible to tell these two races apart. In the hand, the larger size and longer bill of the greater snow goose distinguish it from its smaller counterpart. The sexes are similar in appearance, but the female is often smaller.

Breeding: Greater snow geese breed principally around Foxe Basin, northern Baffin, Bylot, Axel Heiberg and the Ellesmere Islands located in Nunavut, Canada, and in Greenland. They prefer to nest in colonies on well-drained westward slopes or vegetated hilltops, and females lay an average of 4 eggs.
Migrating and Wintering: Greater snow geese leave their arctic breeding grounds and migrate along a narrow corridor through eastern Canada and the northeastern United States to the mid-Atlantic coast (from New Jersey to North Carolina).
Feeding Habits: Greater snow geese are grubbers, feeding on roots, rhizomes and shoots of bulrushes and salt-marsh cordgrass. They also make extensive use of agricultural fields found adjacent to wintering areas.