The Snow Goose is a medium-sized goose that breeds in scattered colonies north of the tree line from northern Alaska across arctic Canada to Greenland. Also in northeastern Siberia. It winters primarily in central California, western Gulf Coast, and the middle Atlantic coast. Also in lesser numbers in Pacific Northwest, in the central states, and the Southwest and central Mexico. Snow Geese migrate long distances, sometimes flying so high that they can barely be seen. The swirling white of a descending flock suggests snow, but among the white birds are darker individuals.
There are two color varieties: one which is white all over, except for black primary feathers, and one that has white head and front of neck, and the body is dark gray-brown (as in our picture).
Because most marshland plants store their energy reserves in their roots in winter months, Snow Geese have evolved strong serrated bills to cut and tear the roots of bulrushes and sedges from the ground in coastal marshes. The goose holds the plants with the serrated edge so that its powerful, toughened tongue, which is also serrated along the margins, can cut through them.
The above picture was taken in the zoo of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in August 2003.
Life on Earth