Prince William Conservation Alliance
Home About Us Calendar Resources Donate

Flock of Snow Geese

Photos © Julia Flanagan, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Novermber 2008

Snow Goose
Chen caerulescens

The Snow Goose, also known as the Blue Goose, has two color plumage morphs, white or gray/blue. White-morph birds are white except for black wing tips, but blue-morph geese have bluish-grey plumage replaces the white except on the head, neck and tail tip.  Both have rose-red feet and legs, and pink bills with black cutting edges. 

Snow geese breed north of the timberline in Greenland, Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia, and in warm parts of North America from southwestern British Columbia through parts of the United States to Mexico.

White- and blue-morph birds interbreed and the offspring may be of either morph. Once thought to be separate species, they are now considered two color phases of the same species.

Snow Geese often nest in colonies.  They typically breed from late May to mid August, but leave their nesting areas and spend more than half the year on their migration to-and-from warmer wintering areas. During spring migration, large flocks of snow geese fly very high along narrow corridors, more than 3,000 miles from traditional wintering areas to the tundra.

Outside of the nesting season, they usually feed in flocks. In winter, snow geese feed on left-over grain in fields. They migrate in large flocks, often visiting traditional stopover habitats in spectacular numbers.