Identification of Geese
There are seven native goose species in the United States. One species, the Emperor Goose, breeds on the islands off the coast of Alaska. It is seldom seen by most birders and is lightly covered in this section.
There are occasional reports of the Bean Goose (A Eurasian Species) and the Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose (from Greenland). These rare visitors to the United States are not covered here.
The domesticated Swan Goose and Graylag Goose are often seen in ponds or small lakes associated with city parks.
What you should know:
- Unlike ducks, geese primarily feed by grazing. Many wildlife refuges plant winter sheet or other grains to feed wintering geese. The rice fields of the southern United States are favorite feeding grounds of wintering geese.
- The Snow Goose comes in two color phases – the typical all white phase and a darker color phase sometimes referred to as the Blue Goose.
- Males and females generally look the same
- There is very little seasonal differences in the plumage.
- Most Geese are easily identified but there are a couple of challenges.
- Canada Goose and Cackling Goose – The Cackling Goose is very much like a small Canada Goose, and was previously considered a small race of the Canada Goose.
- Snow Goose and Ross’s Goose. – These two species are very similar. The Ross’s Goose has a smaller bill and is slightly smaller overall. Ross’s Goose populations have grown rapidly in the past few years.
Select from the following species.
Greater White-fronted Goose Snow Goose Ross’s Goose Emperor Goose Cackling Goose