SNOW GOOSE SPECIES In the early 1900’s hunting snow geese was severely restricted due to low population numbers. However, these days the snow goose is one of the most abundant species of waterfowl in the world. In North America the massive increase in agricultural productivity has increased winter food availability to snow geese in the form of waste grain and other food products in agricultural fields. This is resulting in a huge population boom. Now, instead of restrictive hunting, a spring conservation hunt takes place every year in an attempt to manage the ever growing population that is threatening to destroy its own breeding and wintering habitats through overpopulation.
Snow geese are a mid-sized goose with a distinctive blackish patch that looks like a grin or smile on its bill. Average male is about 756 mm long and weighs about 2.5 kg. Females are generally slightly smaller being an average of 728 mm long and weighing about 2.2 kg. Unlike ducks, male and female snow geese have the same colour plumage which doesn’t change throughout the year. Snow geese are dimorphic. This means that they can be one of two colours. In this case, there is a white morph and a blue morph. Genetic analysis tells us that these two colour morphs are actually the same species. Up until 1983 it was thought that white snow geese and blue snow geese were separate species. White morphs are white all over, except for grey primary coverts and back primaries. Sometimes their head looks a rusty orange, but this is staining from digging or grubbing in mud that contains iron oxides for food, not a feather colour. They have dark pink feet and legs and a rose-pink bill. Ross’s goose is very similar to white morph snow geese, but are smaller with a smaller more rounded head , short neck, and a stubby bill with no ‘grinning patch’. Blue morphs actually aren’t blue, they just look like it. On closer inspection their body is mostly dark grey-brown with a white head and fore neck. .
WHAT IT EAT? Snow geese are mostly herbivorous (i.e. they mostly eat plants). They will grub in to the dirt to pull out plant roots and tubers as well as grazing on surface vegetation and waste grains. Main foods eaten in breeding season are leafy parts of grasses, sedges, rushes, willows as well as other aquatic plants. They also eat rhizomes, tubers and roots of grasses, rushes, sedges, forbs and shrubs. During migration and in the winter, they eat seeds, stems, leaves, rhizomes, stolons, tubers, and roots of aquatic plants such as grasses, sedges, rushes. They also eat grain, the stems of young agricultural crops, horsetail stems and berries.
Where it live? north America they nest in Canada and the artic, and winter in the southern u.s.It also lives at the marshy areas, ponds, streams and lakes
Habitat Snow geese breed and nest in sub-arctic and artic tundra close to ponds, shallow lakes, streams or islands. Colonies in the high arctic can be found far inland in areas of rolling terrain, but more commonly are sited in low lying wet meadows. The geese favour areas with small bumps and ridges as these areas are the first to clear of snow and don’t flood in the spring thaw. In the winter, snow geese like estuarine marshes, marine inlets, shallow tidal waters, marshes (fresh and brackish), lakes, grasslands and cultivated fields.
WHEN DOES IT MIGRATE TO? Snow geese migrate to the Bay region in late November. Flocks of hundreds or thousands of snow geese are a common sight in Eastern Shore marshes and agricultural fields. By early March they begin their migration back to their Arctic nesting grounds. Why does it migrate? They migrate south because it gets cold in the winter
HOW DOES IT MIGRATE? WHERE DOES IT MIGRATE TO? Snow Geese nest in high arctic regions from the North Slope of Alaska, eastward along the coast of north-western Greenland, and southward along the western and southern shores of Hudson Bay. They migrate southward during the fall in large flocks, flying both day and night at high altitudes. The time of their flight is dependent upon weather — they prefer to fly in clear skies and with a good tail wind. When conditions are right they can cover many hundreds of miles during a single high-altitude flight. Snow Geese spend the winter on the mid-Atlantic coast, the Louisiana-Texas Gulf coast, and in California and the Southwest.