The smallest of the white Arctic geese, Ross’s geese (Chen rossii) look like miniature versions of the more common snow goose (Chen caerulescens – see my 02-16-12 post). Ross’s geese are about 40% smaller than snow geese. Where the two species overlap they hybridize making identification difficult.
Adult males and females look the same having stocky, completely white bodies with black primaries (wing tips). Their necks are short, the forehead is high and the small, triangular bill and legs are pink. Juveniles look like adults but are washed with grey.
Ross’s geese breed in the Arctic tundra. Originally Ross’s geese wintered primarily in the Central Valley of California. Although populations of this goose are small, they seem to be increasing in numbers and since the 1950s they have been moving further East in both Arctic Canada and the States. Now Ross’s geese winter in East Texas, Louisiana and Central Mexico as well as California.
As vegetarians, the diet of Ross’s geese consists of grasses, legumes, sedges and domestic grains.
Ross’s geese were named in honor of Bernard R. Ross (1827-1874), a Hudson Bay Company agent at Fort Resolution in the Canadian Northwest Territories.
These Ross’s geese were in a mixed flock of Ross’s, snow and white-fronted geese on flooded wild rice fields near Glenburn CA (Shasta County).