Ross's Goose Anser rossii


The tiny Ross’s Goose (57 cm length) is one of a handful of birds known to nest only in Canada. Birds from colonies on the tundra along Hudson’s Bay winter in the Mississippi Valley, along the Gulf Coast, and (uncommonly) further east. Birds breeding further west have wintering populations in New Mexico, Arizona, and north-central Mexico, or in Oregon, California, and (rarely) NW Mexico. The adult’s plumage resembles a white morph of Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens), white with black wing tips and orange feet and bill. However, the Ross’s Goose is approximately 40% smaller, and has a shorter, more triangular, gray-based bill that lacks the Snow Goose’s dark grin lines. Unlike Snow Goose in which the dark morph (formerly known as Blue Goose) is common, the dark morph of Ross’s Goose is very rare. Wintering birds utilize both freshwater and marine habitats and may be found on lakes and freshwater marshes, in agricultural fields, salt marshes, and along bay edges. Where both species winter together, identification based upon size comparison and bill shape is straightforward. When mixed flocks pass overhead, it is very easy to pick out the smaller Ross’s Geese.

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© Jessie Barry

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Ross's Goose (Anser rossii), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: