General: The Snow Goose has two color
plumage phases, white (snow geese) or gray/blue (blue geese). The dark color
of the blue morph Snow Goose is controlled by a single gene, with dark being
white.(1) Scientists used to believe these were separate species but now
consider the birds the same. White and blue phase birds interbreed and the
offspring may be either white or blue.
Snow Geese mate for life.
Nesting usually begins at the end of May. They make a shallow ground nest
lined with down. The female produces two to six whitish eggs. Incubation
takes about 23-25 days, they fledge in 45-49 days. After hatching, the young
are covered with down and eyes open. The chicks feed themselves but are
protected by both parents. Parents stay with their young through the first
Here is an interesting fact: Snow Geese and Ross's Geese can
breed. I have read that they can also breed with Greater White-fronted
Geese, Canada Geese, and Cackling Geese.
These geese are known to gather
in massive flocks.
Identification: The Snow Goose is
a medium-sized goose. They are 22 30 long with a wing span of 54" 59.
They weigh approximately 4 -6 lbs. Snow geese have two phases white and
blue. The White Goose as the picture indicates is white except for black
wing tips. This phase is more common in the east. The blue phase has
bluish-grey plumage replacing the white except on the head, neck and tail
tip. This phase is common on the Gulf coast
Both snow and blue phases have rose-red feet and legs, and
pink bills with black tomia ("cutting edges"), giving them a black "grin
Habitat: In breeding season - on subarctic
and arctic tundra, near ponds or streams. In winter - in coastal marshes and
bays, wet grasslands, freshwater marshes, and cultivated fields.
Territory: The snow goose breeds north of the timberline in
Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia
Migration: The Snow Goose migrates from its breeding
grounds to warmer parts of North America from
British Columbia into parts of the United States and Mexico mostly in salt
marshes and coastal bays. Snow Geese travel south in very large, high-flying
Hunting: In 1916, snow geese had become so
rare in the eastern United States that hunting of the species was banned.
Today the snow goose population is strong and growing. So strong in fact
that New York has a spring hunting season. The birds have become so numerous
in places that they threaten to destroy their own habitat. I do not remember
seeing snow geese in eastern New York 20 years ago, now they are common
during migration. Hunting is typical goose hunting field hunting with
decoys works well. The meat of snow geese is good. Do not miss an
opportunity to hunt these birds. The shooting is fast and fun.
Food: Marsh plants, field grain corn, rice, wheat, etc
(1) Cornell Lab of Ornithology