Thursday, January 21, 2021

Lesser Snow Goose

The snow goose has two subspecies, the lesser snow goose and the greater snow goose. Each subspecies breeds north of the timberline. The lesser snow goose is a western bird and is smaller, breeding in northeastern Siberia, northern Alaska and northwestern Canada. It winters in the western and southern U.S., Mexico and Japan. The greater snow goose is an eastern bird and is larger, breeding in northeastern Canada and northwestern Greenland and winters in the northeastern U.S. 

Each subspecies has two color morphs. White morphs, sometimes called "snows" have all white plumage except for black flight feathers. Blue morphs have sooty gray plumage except for the head, perhaps some or all of the neck and the tail tip. The juvenile blue morph is entirely sooty gray. The blue phase is much more rare in the greater snow goose than the lesser snow goose. Both morphs have rose-red feet and legs and pink bills with a black "grin patch."  

The goose in the background is a juvenile white morph. 

The dark goose to the lower right is a juvenile blue morph. 

I had never seen a snow goose until a recent visit to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR at the southern edge of the Salton Sea. There they have a huge field that I'm sure they seed with grain and it was covered with snow geese. 
The wooden observation platform is next to the visitors center. 

The geese are quite loud and groups were coming in and taking off so I got great views of them in flight. 

1 comment:

  1. Great photos. The field scene reminds me of a lake full of flamingos, only the land version. The second photo of the bird in flight is my favorite.