Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)

Snow goose


  • Body length ranges from 71 to 84 centimetres (two to three feet).
  • Wingspan ranges from 140 centimetres to 150 centimetres (four-and-a-half to five feet).


  • These birds are entirely white except for the primary feathers which are black.
  • Often they have rusty marks on the head and neck.
  • The beak is a deep pink with black serrated edges, giving the appearance of a grin.
  • The legs are purplish red.


  • In flight, voice is a loud, nasal houk-houk.
  • Snow geese migrate through Alberta to and from their Arctic breeding grounds and winter in the southern United States from California to Florida.
  • These geese are often seen in the company of blue geese.
Natural History


  • Can be found in shallow wetlands, lakes and fields.


  • During the summer, the geese graze on the grasses and lichens of the tundra; during fall migration, they commonly feed on grain.
Reproduction and Growth

Breeding Behaviour

  • The nest consists of reeds and mosses lined with down, on the ground.
  • Four to seven creamy-white eggs are laid.
Conservation and Management


The snow goose is classified as Secure in the current General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:

Current management


Hunting season information for this species is provided in the current Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit the My Wild Alberta website at:

Similar Species
  • Ross’s Goose

    Ross’s geese are indistinguishable from snow geese except for size (Ross’s geese are smaller), voice and the lack of a grinning patch on the bill.


Page Information

Updated: Jan 8, 2014