Emperor Goose – Profile | Migration | Range | Habitat | Coat

Emperor Goose

A good-looking, gray-bodied goose with a white head and black throat, the Emperor Goose is intermediate in size between Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose, its shut relations. A brief, thick neck, smallish head, and brief bill contribute to its heavy-bodied look.

Emperor Goose profile

The Emperor Goose breeds alongside the Bering Sea shoreline in Alaska and Siberia and winters south to Kamchatka, the Aleutians, and the Gulf of Alaska, with small numbers, frequently straying farther south alongside the Pacific Coast so far as California.

This tidewater goose of the Bering Sea area appears much less cautious than most different geese. Uncommon and localized, it ordinarily migrates solely brief distances, from the Alaskan and Siberian tundra to the Aleutian chain; just a few stragglers are seen south of Alaska.

Generally doesn’t combine with different geese, and often travels in small teams, though massive numbers might focus at a couple of key spots in migration and winter.

Emperor Goose Overview

The emperor goose (Anser canagicus), also referred to as the seashore goose[5] or the painted goose, is a waterfowl species within the family Anatidae, which comprises the geese, geese, and swans.

It is blue-gray in coloration as an adult and grows to 66–71 centimeters (26–28 in) in size. Adults have a black chin and throat, a pink bill, yellow-orange legs, and a white head, which frequently turns reddish-brown in the summertime.

In the winter, the emperor goose lives in mudflats and coasts in Alaska and infrequently Canada and the contiguous United States.

In the summertime, it migrates northerly a number of hundred miles to arctic and sub-arctic climates, the place older people breed monogamously.

Nests are constructed in holes and constructed up with vegetation and feathers. Eggs hatch in late June and early July and goslings depart the nest the day they hatch. The species is an omnivore and makes vocalizations that are more nasal than these of different geese.

Listed as close to threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the species’ inhabitants are declining attributable to threats reminiscent of air pollution, searching, and local weather change.

The lovely Emperor Goose is a small, scarce goose of Alaska. It’s intricately patterned in blue-gray and black, set off by a regal white crown and bright-orange legs.

Emperor Geese are birds of rocky seashores and brackish wetlands, the place they feed on mussels, barnacles, eelgrass, and sea lettuce.

Most of the inhabitant’s nest within the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, with some nesting in eastern Russia. Their numbers appear to be recovering from a low within the late 20th century, however, Emperor Geese stay on the Yellow Watch List.

Geographic Range

Anser canagicus is mostly discovered alongside the Bering Sea. Main breeding populations are present in the Arctic and subarctic Alaska, components of Canada, in addition to northeast Russia.

They breed primarily across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska. Most populations of emperor geese migrate to the Aleutian Islands through the winter.

Emperor Goose Habitat

In the summertime, tundra; in winter, rocky shores, mudflats. Closely tied to saltwater in any respect seasons. Most nesting areas on low marshy tundra inside 10 miles of coast, close to sloughs and rivers affected by tides.

Flocks in migration cease over on massive coastal estuaries. In winter, discovered alongside shorelines. Autumn strays south to Oregon and California might seem properly inland.

Emperor geese roost alongside the coast through the non-breeding season. These areas embrace seashores, cliffs, and dunes in addition to alongside reefs.

Emperor geese choose breeding grounds that are barely additional inland into lowland marshes and meadows close to a water source reminiscent of a lake or riverbed. A close-by water source is essential to survival as geese use them to flee from land predators.

Nest sites are additionally discovered on vegetated mudflats and salt marshes. Within every week of hatching, A. canagicus goslings transfer into tidal marsh areas nearer to the coast to develop.

Emperor Goose Description

The emperor goose has a stout blue-gray body, with spots of black and white, which trigger it to have a “scaled appearance”. Its head and the back of its neck are white and tinged with amber-yellow; in contrast to the snow goose, the white doesn’t prolong to the front of the neck.

The goose can also be characterized by a black chin and throat, a whitetail, a pink bill, which is tipped with white, and yellow-orange legs and feet.

The underside of the emperor goose’s wings is grey, in contrast to the snow goose, which has black and white on the underside of its wings.

The head of adults continuously turns to a reddish-brown coloration in the summertime, attributable to its feeding in tidal swimming pools with iron oxide.

Goslings (i.e. younger shortly after hatching) are grayish-white colored; in contrast to adults, their bill is black. Goslings are additionally distinguished from adults by having grey, brown, or black feet and space of white surrounding the bill for the first three weeks after hatching.

Juveniles (i.e. immature specimens older than goslings) are principally grey colored, with a small quantity of white on their feathers.

Younger juveniles have a darkish head and neck, with their head being dusty-colored with patches of white.

However, after October, their head and higher neck flip to principally white, though they nonetheless have scattered darker feathers. By the first winter, juveniles have identical coloring and options as adults.

Adult males develop to a total size of 26–28 inches (66–71 cm) and females 25.6–27.5 inches (65–70 cm). Other measurements in males, sampled from 4 specimens in Alaska and California, embrace a 2.5–2.98-inch (6.4–7.6 cm) tarsus (lower leg), a 1.42–1.6-inch (3.6–4.1 cm) bill, and a 13.5–15.5-inch (34–39 cm) folded wing.

These measurements are comparable in females, however, females have a barely shorter folded wing of 14.75–15.45 inches (37.5–39.2 cm) primarily based on two Alaskan people.

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The goose has a wingspan of 119 centimeters (47 in). Because of its brief wings, it flies slowly, requiring fast strokes.

Males weigh between 2.766 kilograms (6.10 lb) and three.129 kilograms (6.90 lb). They have an implied weight of 2.316 kilograms (5.11 lb), whereas females have an implied weight of 1.945 kilograms (4.29 lb).

The average weight of juveniles is 1.165 kilograms (2.57 lb) in males and 1.107 kilograms (2.44 lb) in females.

Roughly 5–7.5 weeks after hatching, the goose averages a weight of 2.370 kilograms (5.22 lb) and 1.926 kilograms (4.25 lb) in women and men, respectively.

It has a heavy body and a brief neck in comparison with different geese.

Emperor Goose Behavior

Individuals of the species often solely work together with their family; nevertheless, bigger flocks acquire through the breeding season and the molting season. It is likely one of the most unsocial goose species; the one goose much less social than it’s the black brant.

It stays low when flying, often retaining beneath 90 feet (27 m) above the ground and sometimes coming near touching the ground with its wings.

In the summertime, the species’ diet consists of vegetation, reminiscent of shoots, roots, and berries, whereas within the winter it primarily eats bivalve mollusks, which it makes use of its sense of contact to catch, and algae.

Unlike different goose species, its diet principally consists of animals, inflicting its flesh to have a powerful taste. When dwelling close to water, it eats on the fringe of water our bodies, which has given it the name “Beach Goose”.

If the species feels threatened, it goes right into a body of water and swims away till the menace is a secure distance from it.

Its vocalizations, in line with Edward William Nelson, sound like “kla-ha, kla-ha, kla-ha”, and could be differentiated from these of different geese by having a more “nasal” sound.

It vocalizes much less typically than different geese, such because the white-fronted goose. Although the species can reside to age 25 in captivity, it reaches age 12 within the wild.

Large teams of emperor geese start their annual spring migration from their wintering grounds within the Aleutian Islands of Alaska or the Commander Islands of Russia in early March.

These geese transfer over Bristol Bay and arrive on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta between early and mid-May. Geese make the most of these wealthy spring feeding grounds, making them ready for early summertime nesting.

Between late May and early June, geese arrive at their breeding grounds on the Seward Peninsula, St. Lawrence Island, and Siberia.

Autumn migration reverses the trail with emperor geese leaving in late August and early September and arriving back on the Aleutian Islands by the end of November.

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A really compact, round-bodied, and short-necked goose with a small, stubby bill.


Adults are blue-gray total, with stark black-and-white edging to the feathers that create a scaly look. They have a particular black throat and white head and back of neck; a pink-and-lavender bill; and shiny orange legs and feet. Juveniles are comparable however with a darkish bill and with sooty patches on the white head and neck.

Emperor Goose Communication

Emperor geese have two varieties of calls. The first (sounding like “kla-ha kla-ha”) is especially heard throughout migration when birds are grouped collectively in massive numbers.

The second sort of call (sounding like “u-lugh u-lugh”) happens when birds are startled or threatened. These geese may hiss when predators or different geese trying to strategy the nest.

This hissing is commonly paired with a defensive posture or charging the threatening particular person. This species of goose is understood to be a lot much less vocal than most different goose species.

Emperor Goose Migration

The emperor goose is migratory, touring north in the summertime to breed and south for the winter. Unlike many goose species, which migrate hundreds of miles, the emperor goose travels a couple of hundred miles for migration, often about 370 miles (600 km) to 470 miles (760 km).

Breeding birds molt close to the breeding colonies, however geese unsuccessful with breeding transfer to both St. Lawrence Island or the Chukchi Peninsula to molt previous to the primary southerly migration for winter.

The breeding season begins in late June in Russia, however begins a couple of weeks earlier in Alaska, typically between 20 May and three June.

Only people three years or older will mate. A monogamous species, feminine emperor geese have a single mate all through their life and solely mate with some other male if their mate dies.

The species molts from late July to early August and leaves its breeding grounds later than some other species.

Emperor Goose Breeding

The emperor goose breeds on the tundra, constructing its nests in areas 10 miles (16 km) or nearer to the coast. The nests are usually constructed in marshes.

They are constructed as holes within the ground without containing nesting materials, however, are later constructed up with vegetation, reminiscent of leaves, and feathers, which the feminine plucks from herself.

The species often lays 4–6 eggs, however, it may well lay anyplace from 2 to eight; eggs are sometimes laid within the nests of different emperor geese households.

Eggs measure 7.86 centimeters (3.09 in) by 5.21 centimeters (2.05 in) on average, with an elliptical form and a clean shell.

They are initially white-colored, however, turn into speckled with stains from their nest. Egg incubation, often lasting 24 days, is carried out solely by females.

According to The Game Birds of California, a 1918 book, surveys of the species’ nests confirmed that the male didn’t stick with the nest.

The eggs hatch in late June and early July. Exhibiting practicality, younger is in a position to stroll and swim hours after hatching, in addition, to feed themselves.

They usually vacate the nest the identical day as their hatching, though they don’t wander removed from their parents till after two months.

Young can fly as soon as 50−60 days old. 10% of emperor geese stay alive after their first year.

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Varies with the season. On breeding grounds, principally plant materials: roots and bulbs early in the season, the recent growth of sedges and different crops throughout the summertime.

In late summertime, might feed on crowberry or blueberry. During migration and winter feeds closely on clams and mussels, additionally on marine algae and different crops.

Emperor Goose Food Habits

Emperor geese feed primarily on intertidal vegetation and marine invertebrates. Vegetation consists of seashore rye, crowberries, seashore pea, and sandwort.

They are additionally identified to eat seaweed, eelgrass, and sea lettuce. While emperor geese might eat crustaceans, they primarily eat bivalves. During the spring and autumn months, their diet consists primarily of blue mussels and macoma clams.

They forage for these invertebrates by submerging their head underwater to search out their prey. Another methodology of looking for prey referred to as “puddling” happens on mudflats.

A goose creates swimming pools within the flats by stamping its feet after which consuming the disrupted clams. Grasses, sedges, and bulbs are eaten when these birds transfer inland through the nesting season.

On breeding grounds, forages totally on land, grubbing for roots, grazing on recent growth. During migration and winter, forages on mudflats uncovered by falling tides, strolling on moist mud, or in shallow water.

Emperor Goose Eggs

4-6, typically 2-8. Creamy white, changing into nest-stained. Females continuously lay eggs in every others’ nests. Incubation is by feminine solely, usually 24 days, as much as 27.

Young: goslings can stroll and swim inside hours after hatching, often depart nest in lower than a day, following parents to good feeding areas which may be a number of miles from the nest site.

Both parents have a tendency younger. Adults with broods undertake a menacing posture with neck outstretched and bill pointed towards the source of the disturbance. Young fledge in 50-60 days.


Goslings can stroll and swim inside hours after hatching, often depart nest in lower than a day, following parents to good feeding areas which may be a number of miles from the nest site.

Both parents have a tendency younger. Adults with broods undertake a menacing posture with neck outstretched and bill pointed towards the source of the disturbance. Young fledge in 50-60 days.


May mate for all times, and pairs appear to be shaped before arrival on breeding grounds.

Nest site on a small island in the pond, raised hummock or shoreline, surrounded by low useless vegetation however with good visibility.

The nest is a shallow scrape lined with useless plant materials and with massive quantities of down.

Where to search out

To make sure of seeing Emperor Geese you’ll need to go to Alaska. Look for them in winter and early spring (April) on Kodiak Island, or go to Nome and discover east of the city, the place they collect in massive flocks of geese in Safety Sound in May.

Gambell, on St. Lawrence Island, is an effective place to observe migrants flying by.

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Emperor Goose Facts

The name Emperor Goose derives from the adult’s white crown and hindneck, which appeared to early explorers just like the ermine trim on a royal cloak.

In Alaska, some people seek advice from Emperor Goose because the “beach goose” due to its year-round choice for coastal environments, the place it principally roosts on seashores when not foraging. An older widespread name for the species is “painted goose,” referring to its lovely plumage.

In the summertime, Emperor Geese feed in tidal swimming pools which are wealthy in iron oxide. This typically stains the usually white head an intense red-brown coloration.

Emperor Geese fly lower than many different geese that nest within the arctic, often beneath 90 feet within the air and sometimes simply above the ground. However, they fly higher when hunters are round.

The oldest recorded Emperor Goose was feminine at the very least 20 years, Three months old when she was present in Alaska in 2013. She had been banded in 1994.


Threatened. Alaska inhabitants, estimated at 139,000 in 1964, declined to 42,000 by 1986, then was estimated at 85,000 in 2001.

Causes for declines should not properly be understood; could also be associated with searching, probably additionally to grease air pollution in wintering areas.

Status of Siberian inhabitants not well-known, however apparently declining for a lot of 20th centuries. As a coastal breeder within the far north, in all probability fairly susceptible to the results of local weather change.

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