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North Carolina Wildlife Species Information

Snow Goose - Chen caerulescens

Snow Goose Chen caerulescens

Identification Tips:

  • Length: 19 inches Wingspan: 58-59 inches
  • Sexes similar
  • Medium-sized long-necked goose
  • Different color morphs
  • Frequently gathers in huge flocks
  • Sometimes hybridizes with similar Ross's Goose

White morph-adult:

  • Entirely white plumage
  • Black primaries
  • Pink legs and feet
  • Pink bill with black patch along mandibles
  • Sometimes has orangish stains on head

White morph-immature:

  • Mostly white plumage
  • Pale gray nape, back, and wing coverts
  • Black primaries
  • Dark legs and feet
  • Dark bill

Blue morph-adult:

  • White head and upper neck
  • Dark lower neck and body-some have white bellies
  • Pale gray wing upperwing coverts
  • Scapulars dark-centered with white edges
  • Mostly dark primaries and secondaries
  • Pink legs and feet
  • Pink bill with black patch along mandibles

Blue morph-immature:

  • Mostly dark gray-brown plumage
  • Dark legs and feet
  • Dark bill

Similar species:

The white morph of the Snow Goose is similar to widely-escaped domesticated barnyard goose. Note that the Snow Goose has black primaries and a distinctive bill pattern. Domesticated geese have white primaries and, often, an entirely orange bill. White morph Ross's Goose is extremely similar to the white morph Snow Goose. The Ross's Goose is smaller with a stubbier bill without the black patch on the mandibles. It also appears rounder-headed with a shorter neck. Immature white morph Snow Goose is darker-backed than the immature white morph Ross's Goose. The rare blue morph of the Ross's Goose can be separated from the similar blue morph of the Snow Goose by the same structural characteristics already mentioned. Hybrids between Ross's and Snow Geese have intermediate characteristics. The immature blue morph is similar to the immature White-fronted Goose but has dark legs and bill.

Length and wingspan from: Robbins, C.S., Bruun, B., Zim, H.S., (1966). Birds of North America. New York: Western Publishing Company, Inc.

Above information used courtesy of United States Geological Survey.

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