Anser caerulescens   (Linnaeus,   1758) (Bird)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Aves

Image copyright: Pbase

Size 65-85 cm. Wingspan: 58-59 inches. They weigh from 2 to 3 kg. Males and females are similar in appearance although males are usually larger.

Color: There are two phases seen in Anser caerulescens called the "snow" phase and the "blue" phase. In the adult "snow" phase the body is a snowy white with black wing tips. They have red feet and legs, a pink bill, and a black "grin patch" (the black patch of skin that surrounds the base of the bill, which resembles a smile). The adult blue phase geese have the same feet, legs, bill, and grin patch, but they have blue/gray bodies with black wing tips. They also have white necks and heads, and some white on the underside of their bellies. In the immature snow phase the body is a dirty white color with black wing tips and in the immature blue phase they are a slate gray with little or no white. In both immature phases they have red feet and legs but they are not as bright as the adult goose. It was once thought that the two different color phases were different species, but they are not. They interbreed with one another, and they are found together through out their geographical ranges. The colors are genetically controlled and when selecting mates they tend to choose a mate that resembles their parents. Individuals with a mixed set of parents will breed with either color phase.

Breeding season: April to June. Nest: They usually make shallow depressions in the ground and line them with bits of dry vegetation and down from the mother. The female will lay one egg a day until she reaches a full clutch of about 3 to 5. The eggs are incubated for 23 to 25 days while the male guards the nest and the mother.

Synonym (s)

Common Name (s)
• Snow Goose (English)
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Ecosystem balance
(Anser caerulescens are considered to be overabundant and as a result have been stripping their habitat of its vegetation.)
Importance:  Commercial
(Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Because of their large numbers the snow geese are hunted, although there are restrictions in place in order to protect the species from over hunting.

Positive Impacts

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

In recent decades many snow geese have become agricultural pests. They sometimes opt for easy food supplies found in farm fields with tender shoots and wasted corn, wheat, and oats. (Heyland, 2000))
Threats:  Natural threats
(Major predators include artic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and gull-like birds called jaegers (genus Stercorarius). The biggest threat occurs during the first couple of weeks after the eggs are laid and then after hatching. The eggs and young chicks are vulnerable to these predators, but adults are generally safe.)
Threats:  Anthropogenic
(Because of their large numbers the snow geese are hunted.)

Habitat:  Estuarine, Coastal
Prey:  invertebrates
Predator:  Major predators include artic foxes (Vulpes lagopus) and gull-like birds called jaegers (genus Stercorarius).
IUCN Status:  Least Concern


Literature Source(s)
  • Avibase- the world database Available at -
  • Myers, P; Espinosa, R; Parr, CS; Jones, T; Hammond, GS and Dewey, TA (2006) Animal diversity web Available at -
  • Birding in India and South Asia Available at -
  • Vernacular names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent Buceros, Envis newsletter: Avian Ecology & Inland Wetlands 62pp Available at -
  • Kumar A, sati JP and Tak CK (2003) Checklist of Indian Waterbids Buceros Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetlands 8(1) 30pp Available at -
  • Manakadan R and Pittie A (2001) Standardized English names of the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent BUCEROS Envis Newsletter: Avian ecology and inland wetland 6(1) 26pp Available at -
  • PBase Available at -

Page last updated on:2013-03-07

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