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Ross’s Goose

This geese species is very similar to Snow Geese.

Very similar in appearance and also closely related to the Lesser Snow Goose, the Ross’s Goose is a bit smaller and breeds in highly concentrated fashion in a relatively small area of arctic Canada. Some colonies can number well over a quarter-million birds. Ross’s Geese often associate with Lesser Snow Geese on the breeding grounds.

Jaegers, gulls, and foxes all prey on eggs and young of Ross’s Geese. Defensive charges and chases are used in an effort to repel predators. Those young that survive can live for many years. The oldest known Ross’s Goose in the wild lived over 21 years.


Description of the Ross’s Goose


The Ross’s Goose is a small goose with a small pinkish bill. It is white with black wing tips, although there is also a rare bluish-gray form.

Rosss Goose

Photograph © Tom Grey


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Similar to adults, may be more dusky.


Tundra, marshes, and fields.


Grasses sedges, seeds, and grains.


Forages by grazing.


Ross’s Geese breed in northern Canada and winter along the East Coast, in California, and in the south-central U.S.

Fun Facts

Ross’s Geese are often seen mixed in with flocks of Snow Geese, where the size difference can be readily apparent.

Ross’s Geese will chase Snow Geese away from their territories.


Squawks and “keek-keek-keek “ flight calls are given.


Similar Species

  • Similar species: The Snow Goose is larger and has a larger bill with a large black “grinning patch”.


The nest is a bowl of plant material on the ground.

Number: 4.
Color: White.

Incubation and fledging: 
– Young hatch at 21-23 days.
– Young fledge (leave the nest) shortly after hatching but remain with the adults for some time.


Ross's Goose

Small, pink bill, reddish legs ad feet. Black wingtips show when bird is grazing.  The brown markings at the bottom third of the bill vary by individual bird and may be missing completely. Photograph by Tom Grey.

Ross's and Snow Goose

Ross’s Goose on the left.  Ross’s Goose has  more rounded head, and smaller bill.  Photograph by Greg Lavaty.

Ross's and Snow Goose

Ross’s Goose on the left, smaller than the Snow Goose. Photograph by Greg Lavaty.

Ross's and Snow Goose

Compare the shape of the head and the bill of these two similar species. Snow Goose with the black “grin” on the left.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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