The breeding grounds of (Ehrlich, et al., 1988)consist of low grassy tundra with flat basins within 10 km of lakes, rivers, flood plains, or seas. Some choose rockier terrain near grassy wet tundra and flat marshy areas protected from the north by mountains. Overall they prefer coastal lagoons, marshes, tidal flats, and estuaries, but have been known to take advantage of prairies and agricultural lands.
- Sexual Dimorphism
- sexes alike
- male larger
- Range mass
- 1606 to 3307 g
- 56.60 to 116.55 oz
- Average length
- 70 cm
- 27.56 in
There are three stages of development in. There are the hatchlings and young, the juvenile non-breeders, and the adult breeders. The young grow rapidly and are fully fledged within forty-five days. They reach maturity in two years, which is when they usually pair up in a monogamous relationship with another Snow Goose. The pair begins to breed for the first time in June of the third year (Belrose 1976).
- Mating System
- Key Reproductive Features
- seasonal breeding
- gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
- Breeding season
- From April to June
- Range eggs per season
- 1 to 6
- Average eggs per season
- Average eggs per season
- Range time to hatching
- 23 to 25 days
- Range fledging age
- 45 to 49 days
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 2 (low) years
- Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 4 years
Young snow geese are precocial and receive parental care from both the male and female parent. (Ehrlich, et al., 1988)
- Parental Investment
- no parental involvement
We do not have information on home range for this species at this time.
Communication and Perception
- Communication Channels
are herbivorous; they eat roots, leaves, grasses, and sedges. They have strong bills for digging up roots in thick mud. Their most common food source in the northern breeding grounds is American bulrush. As they migrate south they feed on the aquatic vegetation in wetlands and estuaries. They also forage in agricultural fields for wasted oats, corn and winter wheat. They eat tender shoots as they come up or feed on grass, weeds, and clover. In their Louisiana wintering grounds they feed on wild rice. Snow geese also need some sort of grit such as sand or shell fragments to aid in their digestion.
Foods eaten include: saltgrass, wild millet, spikeruch, feathergrass, panic grass, seashore paspalum, delta duckpatato, bulrush, cordgrass, cattail, ryegrass, wild rice, berries, aquatic plants and invertebrates, and agricultural crops. (Belrose, 1976)
- Animal Foods
- Plant Foods
- roots and tubers
- seeds, grains, and nuts
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. They have been seen nesting near snowy owl nests, which is likely a solution to predation. Their nesting success was much lower when snowy owls were absent, which lead scientists to believe that the owls, since they are predatory bird, were capable of keeping predators away from the nests (Tremblay et al., 1997). (Heyland, 2000; Tremblay, et al., 1997)
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)
- Negative Impacts
- crop pest
Alaine Camfield (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
Jessica Logue (author), Western Maryland College, Randall L. Morrison (editor), Western Maryland College.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
- bilateral symmetry
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
used loosely to describe any group of organisms living together or in close proximity to each other - for example nesting shorebirds that live in large colonies. More specifically refers to a group of organisms in which members act as specialized subunits (a continuous, modular society) - as in clonal organisms.
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
an area where a freshwater river meets the ocean and tidal influences result in fluctuations in salinity.
union of egg and spermatozoan
an animal that mainly eats leaves.
A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.
An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
- internal fertilization
fertilization takes place within the female's body
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds
Having one mate at a time.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
the regions of the earth that surround the north and south poles, from the north pole to 60 degrees north and from the south pole to 60 degrees south.
"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.
- seasonal breeding
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
associates with others of its species; forms social groups.
uses touch to communicate
that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).
Living on the ground.
defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
A terrestrial biome with low, shrubby or mat-like vegetation found at extremely high latitudes or elevations, near the limit of plant growth. Soils usually subject to permafrost. Plant diversity is typically low and the growing season is short.
uses sight to communicate
- young precocial
young are relatively well-developed when born
Belrose, F. 1976. Ducks, Geese and Swans of North America. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books.
Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, D. Wheye. 1988. The Birder's Handbook: A field guide to the natural history of North American birds. New York: Simon & Schuster Inc.
Frerichs, T. 1997. Lesser Snow Goose. Columbia, SD: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hebert, P. 2002. "Snow Goose, Chen caerulescens" (On-line). Canada's Aquatic Environments. Accessed January 28, 2004 at http://www.aquatic.uoguelph.ca/birds/speciesacc/accounts/ducks/caerules/account.htm.
Heyland, J. 2000. "Canadian Wildlife Service. Greater Snow Goose" (On-line). Accessed April 9, 2002 at www.cws-scf.ec.gc.ca/hww-fap/greatsg/gsgoose.html.
Tremblay, J., G. Gauthier, D. LePage, A. Desrochers. 1997. Factors affecting nesting success in Greater Snow Geese: Effects of habitat and association with snowy owls. Wilson Bulletin, 109: 449.