The Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), consisting of both a white phase and blue phase (Blue Goose), is a North American species of goose commonly collectively referred to as “light geese.” Its name derives from the typically white plumage. The genus of this bird is disputed. The American Ornithologists’ Union and BirdLife International place this species and the other “white geese” in the Chen genus, while other authorities follow the traditional treatment of placing these species in the “gray goose” genus Anser. The scientific name is from the Latin anser, “goose,” and caerulescens, “bluish,” derived from caeruleus , “dark blue.”
The Snow Goose has two color plumage morphs, white (snow) or gray/blue (blue), thus the common description as “snows” and “Blues.” White-morph birds are white except for black wing tips, but blue-morph geese have bluish-grey plumage replacing the white except on the head, neck and tail tip. The immature blue phase is drab or slate-gray with little to no white on the head, neck, or belly. Both snow and blue phases have rose-red feet and legs, and pink bills with black tomia (“cutting edges”), giving them a black “grin patch.” The colors are not as bright on the feet, legs, and bill of immature birds. The head can be stained rusty-brown from minerals in the soil where they feed. They are very vocal and can often be heard from more than a mile away. [Wikipedia]
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. [All About Birds]
Snow Goose Facts [All About Birds]
- Snow Goose hunting in the eastern United States was stopped in 1916 because of low population levels. Hunting was allowed again in 1975 after populations had recovered. Since then, their populations have continued to grow, to the point that some areas of tundra nesting habitat are starting to suffer.
- Snow Geese chicks are well developed when they hatch, with open eyes and down-covered bodies that already show whether the adult will have white or dark plumage. Within a few days, they are able to maintain a constant body temperature on their own. They grow very quickly, with the males outpacing the females.
- The creamy white eggs of Snow Geese stain easily. People can sometimes tell what order the eggs were laid in, just by the color of the shells (the dirtiest shells belong to the oldest eggs).
- The oldest Snow Goose on record, shot in Texas in 1999, was 27 and a half.