A Ross’s Goose is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Ross’s Geese. We have also put together a list of fun Ross’s Goose t-shirts, Ross’s Goose bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird watching items.
About Ross’s Geese
Little was known about these tiny white geese until 1938. In fact, explorers referred to them as different birds and it was not until 1861 that they described them. They were often thought to be endangered but their population has increased significantly over the years. They are common in the central Arctic where they breed. Some of their distinctive features include:
Description and Migration
Ross’s Geese are white geese that have tiny necks and black wingtips. These birds are the
smallest breeding white geese found in North America. These geese are very similar in
appearance to the white-phase plumage of the snow geese, but they are much smaller in size.
Their bills are also smaller and they lack the characteristic black lips of the Snow Geese. By the
end of the 19th century, these birds had become very rare, but their populations have experienced
a drastic growth due to adequate and timely conservation measures. Ross’s Geese have round
heads and triangular and short bills. Juvenile Ross’s Geese can be identified by the presence of
black feathers in the center of their plumage. These birds display slight sexual dimorphism as
males are 6% larger than females.
Ross’s Goose Color Pattern
They have white wings with black tips and are primarily white both on the upper parts and underparts. They have red-orange feet and legs, brown eyes, and a pink bill.
Ross’s Goose Size
These small geese are almost the same size as a goose or slightly larger.
The relative size of both sexes
- Length range: 22.4-25.2 in (57-64 cm)
- Weight: 30.3-72.0 oz (860-2040 g)
- Wingspan: 44.9 in (114 cm)
Ross’s Goose Behavior
They forage by walking on the ground or by swimming or wading in shallow water. They usually feed in flocks mixed with snow geese in the winter. In courtship, both members of a pair are involved in a rapid head-dipping movement. They usually breed in colonies which can be associated with snow geese.
Ross’s Goose Food
The plant matter is the primary source of nutrition for Ross’s geese. Rarely, they also consume insects.
In the initial period after these birds reach their breeding grounds, they mostly survive on sedges
and grasses. As time passes begin to include other sources of food such as millets, barley, corn,
rice, spike rushes, saltgrass, common bulrushes, chickweeds, and cottongrass into their diet.
Ross’s Geese forage while standing or walking — they also dig out roots and tubers from under
the ground when the ground has become soft due to rain.
They almost entirely feed on plant material. Their diet comprises green grass and sedges throughout the year. They often arrive in breeding grounds before vegetation arises, therefore, they are forced to feed on roots. During migration, they feed on seeds, grains of cultivated crops, or wild grasses.
Ross’s Goose Habitat
Ross’s Geese breed in dry arctic tundra found in Canada. These birds prefer inhabiting small
water bodies that have a variety of emergent vegetation in their vicinity. Ross’s Geese might nest in
flocks that include lesser Snow Geese, as they have similar habitat requirements and the ranges
of both these species often overlap. While migrating during fall these birds make small stopovers at
agricultural fields and marshes. Ross’s Geese feed in wet meadows and plants found in prairies
during their northward migration in Spring. These birds require two separate habitats during winters
— the first one for feeding, and the second one for roosting.
During summer they thrive in the arctic tundra. They can also be found in ponds, marshes, and grain fields. They prefer tundra with a mixture of grass and low matted thickets of willow. During migration and winter, they frequent freshwater marshes, shallow lakes, and flooded agricultural fields.
Range and Migration
Ross’s Geese are white birds that are widespread throughout North America. The highest number
of breeding populations of these birds are found in the Queen Maud Gulf Migratory bird sanctuary,
and the highest number of wintering populations can be found in central California. Ross’s Geese
have the largest winter ranges compared to the rest of the geese found in North America. In the
past, their winter range was constricted to California, but they have diversified through the years.
During winter these birds migrate southwards while short-stopping in areas they cross before they
reach their destination.
Ross’s Goose Lifecycle
The females lay 2-6 eggs and incubate them for 21-23 days. The young ones leave the nest and follow their parents a few moments after hatching. The females feed them while the males defend them from predators. They fledge after 40-45 days. They have a lifespan of 10-25 years in the wild.
Ross’s Goose Nesting
Ross’s Geese sexually mature at the age of 2 or 3. Their courtship display is a rapid head-dipping
the movement performed by both the sexes. Ross’s Geese breed in large colonies as these birds have
massive numbers. The nest sites chosen by these birds are usually located near the shores of
tundra lakes. Their nests are constructed on tundra vegetation with the help of the vegetation
found in this area. Female Ross’s geese lay 2-6 eggs per clutch, which need to be incubated for
19-25 days. Ross’s geese raise only one brood annually.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Ross’s Geese
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Ross’s Geese are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Ross’s Goose T-shirts
If you love Ross’s Goose you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Ross’s Goose Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Ross’s Goose is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Ross’s Goose Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Ross’s Goose. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Ross’s Geese
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Ross’s Geese
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.