A medium-sized goose that breeds on the arctic tundra, the Snow Goose travels south in very large, high-flying, noisy flocks. The swirling white of a descending flock suggests snow, but among the white birds are darker individuals. Until recently, the Blue Geese, as the dark birds were called, were considered a separate species. They are now recognized as merely a dark form of the Snow Goose.

At dawn, thousands of Snow Geese arise from night time roosts within Bosque del Apache, where this photograph was taken, and fly out into nearby agricultural fields to gorge on un-harvested grain, insects and other small animals.

Snow Goose hunting in the eastern United States was stopped in 1916 because of low population levels. Hunting was allowed again in 1975 after populations had increased. Populations have been growing so large that the geese are destroying nesting habitat. Hunting has not slowed the dramatic increases in population size.

Parents stay with their young through the first winter. Families travel together on both the southbound and northbound migrations, separating only after they return to the arctic breeding grounds. Family groups can easily be seen in migrating and wintering flocks.



Snow Goose
Chen caerulescens

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