Snow Goose, Identification, All About Birds - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

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Snow Goose

Chen caerulescens ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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Snow Goose Photo

Watching huge flocks of Snow Geese swirl down from the sky, amid a cacophony of honking, is a little like standing inside a snow globe. These loud, white-and-black geese can cover the ground in a snowy blanket as they eat their way across fallow cornfields or wetlands. Among them, you might see a dark form with a white head—a color variant called the “Blue Goose.” Snow Geese have skyrocketed in numbers and are now among the most abundant waterfowl on the continent.

  • Identification
  • Life History
  • Sound
  • Video
  • Click to view Birds of North America Online account

Keys to identification Help

Ducklike
Ducklike
Typical Voice
  • Size & Shape

    A medium-sized goose with a hefty bill and long, thick neck. Juveniles are slightly smaller than adults in the fall, and this can be noticeable in flocks during fall and early winter.

  • Color Pattern

    The Snow Goose is a white-bodied goose with black wingtips that are barely visible on the ground but noticeable in flight. The pink bill has a dark line along it, often called a "grinning patch" or "black lips." You may also see dark morph Snow Geese, or "Blue Geese," with a white face, dark brown body, and white under the tail.

  • Behavior

    Snow Geese don’t like to travel without the company of another couple dozen geese and can form flocks of several hundred thousand. Family groups forage together on wintering grounds, digging up roots and tubers from muddy fields and marshes. In flight, they are steady on the wing with even wingbeats.

  • Habitat

    Snow Geese adapted quickly to use agricultural fields, which is one reason their populations are doing so well. During winter and migration, look for them in plowed cornfields or wetlands. Also check lakes, ponds, and marshes where they roost and bathe along shorelines and in open water. Snow Geese breed on Arctic tundra.

Range Map Help

Snow Goose Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

Field MarksHelp

  • White morph adult
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph adult
    • Stocky, short-necked goose
    • Large, stubby pink bill with "grin patch"
    • Mostly bright white overall with black wing-tips
    • Pink legs
    • © Ian Davies, Amherst, Massachusetts, March 2011
  • White morph adults
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph adults
    • Often seen flying in loose formations
    • Short-necked and stocky
    • White morphs distinctive in flight with bright white bodies and black wing-tips
    • © Andy Johnson, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, May 2011
  • White morph flock
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph flock
    • Often seen in huge flocks
    • Stocky and short-necked
    • Bright white overall with black wing-tips
    • © Christopher L. Wood, New York, January 2007
  • White morph adults
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph adults
    • Stocky, short-necked geese
    • Bright white with black wing-tips
    • Mud and soil sometimes stain head and face with brownish color
    • Stubby, pink bill with "grin patch"
    • © Christopher L. Wood, December 2010
  • White morph juvenile
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph juvenile
    • Large, stocky goose
    • Mostly white with some dusky gray patches on juveniles
    • Black wing-tips
    • "Grin patch" on bill
    • © Michael Fannon, Bombay Hook NWR, Delaware, December 2009
  • White morph juvenile
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph juvenile
    • Large, stocky goose
    • Mostly white
    • Juveniles are mostly dusky gray, showing more and more bright white as they molt into adult plumage
    • Distinctive "grin patch" on bill
    • © jon, Fir Island Farms, Washington, November 2011
  • White morph immature
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph immature
    • Stocky, short-necked goose
    • Bright white overall, with some dusky gray juvenile plumage remaining
    • Black wing-tips
    • Pink bill with "grin patch"
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Champaign Co., Illinois, March 2005
  • White morph immature
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph immature
    • Large, stocky goose
    • Distinctive in flight with bright white body and black wing-tips
    • Juvenile white morphs show dusky gray on head and neck
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Salton Sea, California, February 2011
  • White morph flock
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph flock
    • Large, stocky geese
    • Short-necked
    • Often seen in huge flocks
    • Mostly bright white, sometimes with mud/soil stains on face
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Delaware, December 2006
  • Blue morph adults in white morph flock
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Blue morph adults in white morph flock
    • Blue morph birds are usually less numerous than white morphs
    • Often in large flocks
    • Stocky, short-necked goose
    • Stubby, pink bill
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Delaware, December 2006
  • Intermediate and white morph adults
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Intermediate and white morph adults
    • Stocky, short-necked geese
    • White morphs show bright white body and black wing-tips in flight
    • Intermediate morphs show dark chest/upper-parts of blue morph, white belly of white morph
    • © Andy Johnson, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada, May 2011
  • White morph adult and blue morph immature
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    White morph adult and blue morph immature
    • Stocky, short-necked geese
    • White adults are bright, snowy white overall with pink bills
    • Blue juveniles are mostly dark gray with head/neck becoming paler
    • Distinctive "grin patch" on bills
    • © jon, Fir Island, Washington, April 2012
  • Blue morph adult
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Blue morph adult
    • Stocky, short-necked goose
    • Stubby pink bill with "grin patch"
    • Blue morphs mostly dark gray overall with white heads
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Ithaca, New York, August 2009
  • Blue morph adults
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Blue morph adults
    • Large, stocky, short-necked geese
    • Blue adults are slaty blue-gray overall with white heads/necks
    • Pink bills
    • © Christopher L. Wood, Minnesota, October 2004
  • Blue morph adult
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Blue morph adult
    • Large, heavy-bodied goose
    • Short-necked, with stubby, pink bill and "grin patch"
    • Blue morphs are dark, slaty blue/gray overall with white heads
    • Pink legs
    • © Christopher L. Wood, New Hampshire, November 2004
  • Blue morph immatures
    Zoom In

    Snow Goose

    Blue morph immatures
    • Large, heavy-bodied goose
    • Blue morph juveniles are mostly dark gray overall
    • Grin patch on bills
    • Developing white heads and necks
    • © B.N. Singh, Chincoteague NWR, Virginia, December 2011

Similar Species

  • White morph adult
    Zoom In

    Ross's Goose

    White morph adult
    • Small, stocky goose
    • Very small, stubby pink bill with little or no "grin patch" visible
    • Daintier and shorter-necked than Snow Goose
    • © Ganesh Jayaraman, Mountain View, California, December 2009
  • White morph adults
    Zoom In

    Ross's Goose

    White morph adults
    • Small and stocky
    • Daintier than Snow Goose
    • Tiny, stubby bills, lacking the "grin patch" of a Snow Goose
    • © Stephen Ramirez, Texas, December 2009
  • Blue morph adult
    Zoom In

    Ross's Goose

    Blue morph adult
    • Smaller and daintier than Snow Goose
    • Smaller, stubbier bill with little or no "grin patch"
    • Blue morph of Ross's Goose is rare
    • © Stephen Parsons, Oregon, April 2011
  • Adult
    Zoom In

    Mute Swan

    Adult
    • Very large, with much longer neck than Snow Goose
    • Long, flattened orange bill with black mask at base
    • Solid white overall, with no black wing-tips
    • © Gary Tyson, Cape May, New Jersey, April 2006
  • Adults
    Zoom In

    Mute Swan

    Adults
    • © Thomas Gorman, Paulinskill NWR, New Jersey, January 2012
  • Juvenile
    Zoom In

    Mute Swan

    Juvenile
    • Superficially similar to juvenile Snow Goose, but much larger
    • Very long, curving neck
    • Long, sloping bill
    • Black mask at base of bill
    • © Billy and Fred, DeKorte Park, New Jersey, December 2009
  • Adults
    Zoom In

    Trumpeter Swan

    Adults
    • Huge swan, much larger than Snow Goose
    • Long, curving neck
    • Elongated, downward-sloping black bill
    • Bright, solid white overall
    • © Bill Thompson, Anchorage, Alaska, October 2010

Similar Species

Ross’s Goose looks like a miniature, small-billed version of a Snow Goose. Look carefully for them, as huge flocks of Snow Geese often contain a few Ross's Geese. Ross’s Goose has a petite rounded head and a stout, shorter bill without the dark “grinning patch.” They also have a dainty personality, carefully plucking grass rather than rooting in mud, so they lack the rusty staining you often see on Snow Goose faces. Tundra Swan, Trumpeter Swan, and Mute Swan are much larger, with longer necks, and lack the Snow Goose's black wingtips. Trumpeter Swans and Tundra Swans have dark bills and feet and Mute Swan has a bulbous orange bill. You may also see all-white domestic geese and ducks, but these typically have orange bills and feet, lack the black wing feathers, and have shape differences such as heavy bottoms and an ungainly waddle.

  • Trumpeter Swan
  • Ross's Goose
  • Tundra Swan
  • Mute Swan

Find This Bird

Look for Snow Geese in open fields and bodies of water in their wintering grounds across the United States, or passing high overhead during migration. During spring and fall migration, the geese will stop over in open habitats along the four major North American flyways. If the geese are around, they’ll be hard to miss: a cacophony of honks accompanying a huge flock either on the ground or in the air.

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カナダのガチョウの男性
カナダのガチョウニューヨーク
カナダのガチョウの男性

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GOOSE


Also found in: Dictionary , Thesaurus , Medical , Idioms , Encyclopedia , Wikipedia .
Related to GOOSE: geese Acronym Definition GOOSE Generic Object Oriented Substation Events

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Feedback Flashcards & Bookmarks ? Please log in or register to use Flashcards and Bookmarks. You can also log in with Flashcards ? My bookmarks ? +  Add current page to bookmarks TheFreeDictionary presents: Write what you mean clearly and correctly. References in classic literature ? If Jo is a tomboy and Amy a goose , what am I, please? View in context His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back came Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted by his brother and sister to his stool before the fire; and while Bob, turning up his cuffs -- as if, poor fellow, they were capable of being made more shabby -- compounded some hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it round and round and put it on the hob to simmer; Master Peter, and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch the goose , with which they soon returned in high procession. View in context To own the truth, Henry and I were partly driven out this very evening by a disappointment about a green goose , which he could not get the better of. View in context In front of him he saw, in the gaslight, a tallish man, walking with a slight stagger, and carrying a white goose slung over his shoulder. View in context The countryman than began to tell his tale, and said he was going to take the goose to a christening. View in context He had a pole ten feet long, with a crook in the end of it, and occasionally a goose would branch out from the flock and make a lively break around the corner, with wings half lifted and neck stretched to its utmost. View in context But, in the first place, I'm going to cook this fat goose to a turn, for I see that Mr. View in context No archer ever lived that could speed a gray goose shaft with such skill and cunning as his, nor were there ever such yeomen as the sevenscore merry men that roamed with him through the greenwood shades. View in context I'm not a goose , but they are who cry about trifles," said Petya. View in context D'you know, Katharine, that ridiculous goose came to tea with me? View in context We'll drink all together To the gray goose feather And the land where the gray goose flew. View in context And as we hurried up town, Joe Goose explained: "It's the Hancock Fire Brigade. View in context Acronyms browser ? Full browser ? CITE Site: Follow: Share: Open / Close More from Mobile Apps Free Tools For surfers: For webmasters: Copyright © 2003-2017 Farlex, Inc Disclaimer

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