Snow Geese

What first struck me when I first visited Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge in 2011 was the sheer number of Snow Goose — thousands of them. I’ve never seen that many here again, including on this trip. Even though we were on the refuge at first light, most of the Snow Goose were already feeding in nearby fields. Luckily, there were still small flocks to photograph. When you only see a few geese, you tend to look at them more closely and notice things you hadn’t noticed before.

Snow Goose suggests “white” and that’s what I tend to see when I observe them in nature. These two are certainly “typical.”

I’m not sure I ever really noticed before, but almost every Snow Goose I saw on the refuge had a brown-tinged head.

I’m assuming that since the tinge on the head matches the ring around the bottom, that this is the result of rooting in the mud, not natural coloring.

When I first saw this juvenile Snow Goose, I thought perhaps it was a Blue Morph, but, no, this is a normal juvenile.

No wonder so many people have problems identifying birds when they go through transformations like this.

A few years ago I doubt I would have realized that these juvenile Snow Geese were Snow Geese at all.

If I had seen this juvenile by itself in a different location, I doubt I would have identified it as a Snow Goose,

especially because of the mottled breast.

3 thoughts on “Snow Geese

  1. It strikes me that human kids (at least the caucasian variety) often start off blondish and then get darker as they mature, while snow geese do the opposite. I’m wondering, though, why adaptation wouldn’t have pushed them to remain the darker juvenile color in order to better camouflage them from predators. Or do their wings offer them sufficient protection?

    • Hopefully you’re just wondering, Andrew, because I have no idea. I just photograph them and, in the process, see them more clearly than I did before.

      I know they breed in the tundra, but they apparently seek areas without snow, which would seems to indicate that a mottled color would provide more camouflage.

      Maybe they’re just sexier looking when they’re all white and, thus, mate more often. There is a large “blue” morph of Snow Geese.

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