Snow Goose

Chen caerulescens
A Snow Goose specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

Named for its snow-white body, the white-morph Snow Goose may also be identified by its size (25-38 inches), pink bill, and black wing-tips. The only other all-white goose in North America, Ross’s Goose, is much smaller and shorter-billed. This species comes in another color morph, also know the “Blue Goose,” which has the same white head and tail as the white-morph Snow Goose but has a dark gray body and gray wings. Males and females are similar to one another in all seasons. The Snow Goose breeds locally on islands in arctic Canada, as well as in Alaska, Greenland, and Siberia. This species migrates south for the winter, when it may be found in the Mid-Atlantic region, along the Mississippi River, and more locally west to California and British Columbia. Other populations winter in Mexico along the Gulf of California, along the Gulf of Mexico south to Veracruz, and in the central Mexican highlands. Snow Geese breed in and around tundra lakes, ponds, and rivers. In winter, large numbers of Snow Geese congregate on freshwater or saltwater wetlands, including marshes, estuaries, and bays. Migrating Snow Geese may be found elsewhere in North America on wetlands similar to those used during the winter. This species primarily eats plant matter, including seeds, tubers, and roots, which it eats by grazing on exposed plant parts and excavating less-exposed material. Due to the relative inaccessibility of their breeding grounds, most birdwatchers never observe Snow Geese during the summer months. They are much more accessible in winter and during migration, when they may be found in large flocks on wetlands or in the air. This species is primarily active during the day.

DC Information

(There is no label in the exhibit for this bird, which is to the right of the Brant.)

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC28265 Chen caerulescens (Snow Goose)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC28266 Chen caerulescens (Snow Goose)