Ross’s Goose – Profile | Facts | Habitat | Range | Traits | Flight

Ross's Goose

The Ross’s Goose is a small goose, comparable in look to the Snow Goose. Like the Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose has a light and darkish morph, though the dark-morph Ross’ Goose is extraordinarily uncommon.

Ross’s Goose profile

The light morph is white, and the darkish morph is grey with a white head. Both morphs have black primaries. The bill is small and lacks the ‘grin patch seen on the Snow Goose. Juveniles are principally grey.

This pint-sized relative of the Snow Goose has been surrounded by thriller and shock. Explorers acknowledged it as a special bird as early as 1770, however, it was not described to science till 1861; its Arctic nesting grounds weren’t found till 1938.

Once regarded as very uncommon, and even on brink of extinction, its inhabitants have vastly elevated in the latest a long time. Not till the late 1970s was it found that Ross’s, like Snow Goose, can happen in a “blue” morph. Blue Ross’s Geese are nonetheless hardly ever detected.

Ross’s Goose Overview

Ross’s Goose, scientific name Anser rossii is a white goose with black wingtips and a comparatively quick neck and is the smallest of the three “white geese” that breed in North America.

It is comparable in look to a white-phase snow goose, however about 40% smaller. Other variations from the snow goose are that the bill is smaller in proportion to its body and lacks “black lips”. The darkish section is extraordinarily uncommon.

Before the early 1900s, this goose was thought of as an uncommon species, presumably as a consequence of open looking, however, numbers have elevated dramatically because of conservation measures.

It is now listed as a species of Least Concern by the IUCN and is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

The Ross’s goose is known in honor of Bernard R. Ross, who was related to the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Members of the Hudson’s Bay Company had been the first to discover the arctic nesting grounds of Ross’s geese in 1940.

Ross’s Goose Description

Ross’s goose has a rounded head above a brief neck. The bill is brief and triangular and has a bluish base with warty buildings that improve in prominence with age.

Adults are recognized by all-white secondary feathers, whereas juveniles’ will probably be darkishly centered. Females average 6% smaller than males. Legs will start as olive-grey on goslings and switch deep red as they mature.

A diminutive model of the acquainted Snow Goose, Ross’s Goose can also be white with black wingtips however has a shorter neck and stubbier bill. These gregarious waterfowl can type large flocks on their very own, and smaller numbers additionally be part of monumental flocks of Snow Geese.

Both these species have seen inhabitants explosions as local weather change has warmed their arctic breeding grounds, lowering snow cover and rising plant growth. The two species appear to be hybridizing more ceaselessly as warming permits their breeding ranges to come back into contact.

There isn’t any geographic variation or recognized subspecies. Related species embrace different Anser geese, significantly the lesser snow goose, the place the 2 mtDNA lineages indicate frequent hybridization.

Two hypotheses concerning the evolution of Ross’s goose are that they arose from inhabitants of snow geese that had been remoted by glacial advance or in a refugium that remained ice-free.



  • Length: 23.2-25.2 in (59-64 cm)
  • Weight: 42.3-55.Three oz (1198-1567 g)
  • Wingspan: 44.5-45.7 in (113-116 cm)


  • Length: 22.6-24.Four in (57.3-62 cm)
  • Weight: 37.6-51.Three oz (1066-1454 g)

Ross’s Goose Habitat

Tundra (summertime), marshes, grain fields, ponds. In summertime on Arctic tundra, particularly flat tundra with a mixture of grassy areas and low matted thickets of dwarf birch or willow.

In migration and winter, shallow lakes, freshwater marshes, flooded stubble fields, different agricultural lands.

The landscape within the central Arctic is dominated by flat plains with some rock outcrops and drumlins, moist meadows, and marshy tundra.

Vegetation contains patches of dwarf birch, willow, grasses, sedges, and low-growing vascular vegetation together with crowberry, Lapland rosebay, and lousewort. Large colonies of nesting birds could cause in-depth injury to vegetation by overgrazing.

Ross’s Goose Behavior

Ross’s geese type giant nesting colonies on islands in shallow lakes and adjoining mainland, constructing nests on the ground product of twigs, leaves, grass, moss, and down. Females lay an average of 4 eggs per clutch and incubate the nest for 21–23 days.

A study of ground-based sampling alongside the McConnell River on the west coast of Hudson Bay reported inhabitants of about 81,000 nesting Ross’s geese.

Ross’s Geese spend a lot of the day grazing on quick grasses and different vegetation, hardly ever digging for tubers as Snow Geese do.

They nest in huge, dense colonies with Snow Geese, the place they defend small territories. After nesting, they transfer to conventional molting areas and develop into flightless for a number of weeks before migrating southward.

These birds migrate from their Canadian nesting grounds by mid-October, most likely in response to restricted meals before freezing temperatures set in, and start their return in mid-April to May.

Like most geese, they’re grazers that feed on grasses, sedges, and small grains. They typically forage in giant blended flocks with snow geese.

ross's goose blue phase ross goose blue ross goose anser rossii ross snow goose


A small goose with a stocky body, a slightly quick neck, and a stubby bill that’s neatly triangular in form.


Adults are white with black wingtips. The bill is pink and lacks the broad black edges of the bill (generally known as a “grinning patch”) that Snow Geese presents.

Rare “blue” morphs have principally darkish our bodies and wings, with a white face. Immatures are white tinged with grey and have a darkish bill.


Virtually fully plant materials. Diet for many of year is principally green grasses and sedges. On arrival on breeding grounds, before new growth is offered, do a lot of grubbing for roots. In fall migration, feeds more on seeds and grains of untamed grasses or cultivated crops.

Feeding Behavior

Forages primarily by strolling on land, or wading, or swimming in shallow water. During migration and winter, feeds in flocks, often with Snow Geese.


4, generally 2-6, hardly ever 1-8. Dull white, turning into nest-stained. Female does all incubating, often 21-23 days. Young: Leave the nest shortly after hatching, following parents to water.

Both parents have a tendency to the younger; the male is most lively in protection in opposition to predators. Young fledge in 40-45 days.


Leave the nest shortly after hatching, following parents to water. Both parents have a tendency to the younger; the male is most lively in protection in opposition to predators. Young fledge in 40-45 days.

Ross’s Goose Nesting

First breeding at age of two or three years. Courtship entails speedy head-dipping by each member of the pair. Breeds in colonies, often related to colonies of Snow Goose.

Nest site is usually on the island or shore of tundra lake, often on the fringe of the low thicket. The identical site is usually used for more than 1 season.

The nest is a cumbersome bowl of twigs, leaves, grass, moss, lined with down. Female builds the nest, starting concerning the time the first egg is laid, persevering with after incubation begins.

Ross’s Goose Facts

A Ross’s Goose can typically be picked out of a big flock of Snow Geese by its immaculate white head, missing the yellow staining of Snow Geese which were rooting deeply for tubers in marshes. Ross’s Geese are likely to forage more on vegetation on the floor.

The feminine Ross’s Goose does all the incubation of the eggs. The male stays close by and guards her the entire time. The feminine covers the eggs with down when she leaves the nest. The down retains the eggs heat whereas she is away and will assist disguise them from predators.

Populations of arctic-nesting geese, particularly Ross’s Geese and Snow Geese, have modified the plant communities within the locations the place they nest. Their giant, rising colonies strip huge areas of vegetation, in some areas almost down to reveal ground. Some of those denuded areas of the tundra are seen from the house.

Downy younger are available in two colors: yellow and grey. The two types look identical as soon as they get actual feathers.

Very hardly ever, Ross’s Goose could be discovered that’s dark-colored like a blue morph Snow Goose.

Prior to the 1950s, Ross’s Goose was confined to well-defined breeding and wintering areas, with few seen as strays. Since that point, the species has been increasing eastward, each on the breeding and wintering grounds. The change in the breeding distribution has resulted in more contact and subsequent hybridization with the Snow Goose.

The oldest identified Ross’s Goose was feminine, and no less than 22 years, 6 months old when she was taken by a hunter in California in 1993. She had been banded in 1972 in Saskatchewan.

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Where to search out Ross’s Goose

Ross’s Geese are reliably seen in winter in California, New Mexico, Texas, and Louisiana. They transfer round through the day, in search of the most effective fields or marshes for foraging, however, they often return to refuges or reservoirs within the night to roost.

Even removed from regular wintering areas, a couple of Ross’s are sometimes scattered amongst flocks of Snow Geese or different geese.

Patient scanning of flocks with a recognizing scope is the most effective methodology to search out them; search for Ross’s smaller size and shorter, more triangular, principally pink bill.

Ross’s Goose Conservation

The variety of nesting birds within the Queen Maud Gulf hit a record low of two,000-3,000 within the early 1950s on account of in-depth capturing and trapping and their subsequent sale in California markets.

Hunting of Ross’s geese was made unlawful within the U.S. in 1931. When populations on wintering grounds started to increase once more, restricted looking was launched.

Today, Ross’s goose is protected below the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

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