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< >  Anser caerulescens - Snow goose (Click photographs/illustrations: full picture & further details)
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INFORMATION AVAILABLE

GENERAL & REFERENCES

EXTERNAL APPEARANCES

REPRODUCTION

BEHAVIOUR

NATURAL DIET

RANGE & HABITAT

CONSERVATION

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General and References

Alternative Names (Synonyms)

Oie des neiges (French)
Schneegans (German)
Ansar Nival (Spanish)
Ganso die nieve (Spanish)
Ansar hiperbóreo (Spanish)
Sneeuwgans (Dutch)
Snögĺs (Swedish)
Lesser Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens caerulescens)
Blue Goose (Anser caerulescens caerulescens)
Greater Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens atlanticus)
Chen caerulescens
Chen albatus

Names for newly-hatched

Gosling, downy.

Names for non-breeding males or other colour-phases

Blue phase (in Anser caerulescens caerulescens only).

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References

Species Author

Debra Bourne

Major References

B1, B2, B3, B4, B8, B19, B25, B26.

Aviculture references:
B7, B29, B30, B31, B40, B94, B95, B96, B97, B108, B128.w1, B129
D1, D8

Other References

B138
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TAXA Group (where information has been collated for an entire group on a modular basis)

Parent Group

Specific Needs Group referenced in Management Techniques

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Aviculture Information

Notes

General information:
  • Northern (True) Geese are generally hardy and easy to manage. They are usually gregarious and many species may be kept in flocks, however they tend to be territorial and aggressive in the breeding season and some may need to be maintained in separate pens. It is often possible to keep small ducks with pairs of geese, unless the individual goose pair is particularly pugnacious. They should always be provided with adequate water for swimming.
  • For a single pair of geese a total pen area of 300m˛ (or 200m˛  for smaller species, e.g. Branta ruficollis - Red-breasted goose), with at least 20% of this area water is suggested, although more water should be provided if possible in a larger pen (D1).
  • Geese are grazers and should have access to good short grass (less than 3 inches, 7.5cm long) for grazing. When grass is scarce, it may be supplemented with greenfood such as cabbage, lettuce etc.; alfalfa pellets have also been used for this purpose. Additional grain and pellets should be given, with a change to breeder pellets in the breeding season, at which time less or no grain may be fed. Breeding success may be decreased if these species are allowed to become too fat and this can be problematic particularly for the species which normally breed in the high Arctic.
  • Goslings may be parent hatched and reared, although being mainly terrestrial they are more vulnerable to predation than are cygnets. Whether parent or hand-reared, goslings should be provided with unlimited grazing and other green food such as chopped lettuce, as well as starter crumbs.
  • Geese species may hybridise with one another, but this is not usually a problem if they are well paired before being mixed with other birds.

(B7, B29, B30, B40, B94, B95, B108, B128.w1, B129, D1)

Species-specific information:

  • Snow geese are hardy and easy to manage. The aggression level appears to vary between sub-species: Anser caerulescens caerulescens - lesser snow goose is generally unaggressive and usually mix well with other waterfowl, while Anser caerulescens atlanticus - greater snow goose may be more aggressive and maintenance in a separate enclosure is suggested. Good grazing provides most of their food requirement, with wheat, pellets, greenfood, and bread as additional food; plenty of green food should be available.
  • These geese are commonly bred in captivity. They will use nest boxes or lay on ground in open cover; they may use pre-prepared hollow (80 by 80cm and 15 cm deep suggested, filled with grass). Lay mainly mid-April to early May (B31) or end of May (B29). May be left to be parent incubated and reared if conditions allow, also easily artificially incubated and hand-reared. 
  • These geese readily hybridise with Anser spp. and Branta spp.; fertile hybrids reported with Anser species, but sterile hybrids from crosses with Branta canadensis - Canada goose, Branta bernicla - Brent goose, Alopochen aegyptiacus - Egyptian goose; should be kept apart from other geese species until paired.

(B29, B31, B94, B96, B97, B108, D1)

Aviornis UK Ringing Scheme suggested average closed ring size: R 16.0mm (some males 18.0mm) (D8).

Management Techniques

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External Appearance (Morphology)

Measurement & Weight

Length 26-33 inches, 66-84cm (B3, B1).
Adult weight General About 2500-3300g (B1).
Male Anser caerulescens caerulescens average 2744g (B3); mean 6.0 lbs. (B8).

Anser caerulescens atlanticus average 3310g (B3); mean 7.9 lbs. (B8)

Female Anser caerulescens caerulescens average 2517g (B3); mean 6.0 lbs. (B8).

Anser caerulescens atlanticus average 2812g (B3); mean 7.9 lbs. (B8).

Newly-hatched weight --
Growth rate --

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Head

Adult Bill Male Deep pink.
Variations (If present) --
Eyes (Iris) Male Dark brown.
Variations(If present) --
Juvenile Bill Dusky.
Eyes (Iris) Dark brown.

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Legs

Adult Male Deep pink.
Variations (If present) --
Juvenile Dusky.

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Plumage

Adult Male White, except primaries black.
Variations (If present) Blue phase colouration (only seen in Anser caerulescens caerulescens). Head and neck white, lower neck, breast and abdomen pale grey, upperparts and flanks ashy blue-grey, ventral area, tail-coverts and rump white. Wings grey with black primaries.
Juvenile Head and neck mottled grey, back ashy brown, secondaries dusky.

Blue phase juveniles lack white on head.

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Newly-hatched Characteristics

General: Upperparts olive-buff, underparts, head and neck yellow, with olive-buff cap on head. Blue phase olive-grey.
Bill: Grey.
Feet: Grey.

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Reproduction

Reproductive Season

Time of year Begins June
No. of Clutches --

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Nest placement and structure

On ground. A shallow depression, moss-filled and lined with grass and down.

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Egg clutches

No. of Eggs Average 4-5 (B1).
Range 2-10 (B1); 4-5 (B8).
Egg Description Creamy white (B3, B8). Size: 78 x 52mm. Weight: 127g.(B3)

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Incubation

23-25 days (B1); 22-25 days (B8).

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Hatching

Synchronous.

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Fledging

40-50 days (B1); 42-50 days (B8).

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Sexual Maturity

Males Two years old, but usually nest only at three or four year old.
Females Two years old, but usually nest only at three or four year old.

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Behaviour

Feeding Behaviour

Adults Mainly forages by grazing on land, also in water.
Newly-hatched --

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Parental Behaviour

Nest-building In colonies.
Incubation By female, with male standing guard.
Newly-hatched Tended by both parents.
Juveniles

Remain with parents until the following breeding season.

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Social Behaviour

Intra-specific Highly gregarious, even in the breeding season.
Inter-specific Nesting areas sometimes shared with Branta bernicla - Brent geese - Brent geese and Branta canadensis - Canada geese - Canada geese.

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Sexual Behaviour

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Predation in Wild

Arctic foxes, also gulls and jaegers.

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Activity Patterns

Migrate in large flocks.
Circadian Diurnal.

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Natural Diet

Adults

Basically vegetarian. Roots, tubers, leaves, grasses, seed-heads and stems of aquatic plants and sedges. Winter: also grain and vegetables.

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Newly-hatched

Mosquitoes important.

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Range and Habitat

Distribution and Movement (Migration etc.)

Normal Anser caerulescens caerulescens from Wrangel Island, north Alaska, eastward to Baffin Island.

Anser caerulescens atlanticus North-west Greenland, islands in northern Baffin Bay.

Migratory, to Atlantic and Gulf coasts of USA, in south-western states and northern Mexico.

Occasional and Accidental

Irregularly to Hawaii and to eastern Asia.

Vagrant to north-west Europe.

Introduced

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Habitat

Vagrant: low grassy tundra, near water or on stony ground. Winter: usually near coasts, often on low agricultural land.

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Conservation

Intraspecific variation

Lesser Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens caerulescens)
Blue Goose (Anser caerulescens caerulescens)
Greater Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens atlanticus)

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Conservation Status

Wild Population -
(Importance)

Numerous. Adapting to use agricultural lands (B1, B8).

CITES listing --
Red-data book listing --
Threats --

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Captive Populations

Common in collections (B8).

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Trade

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