Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens)


French: Oie des neiges German: Schneegans Spanish: Ánsar nival
Other common names: Greater Snow Goose (atlanticus), Lesser Snow Goose, Blue Goose (caerulescens)

Anas caerulescens


, 1758,

Hudson Bay


Sometimes placed together with A. rossii in genus Chen, with or without A. canagicus. Has hybridized in wild with Branta canadensis#R and A. rossii#R. White morph of present species has been referred to as hyperboreus, but latter name has no taxonomic significance. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. caerulescens (Linnaeus, 1758) – Wrangel I (off NE Russia); N Alaska and N Canada E to SW Baffin I. Winters in W & SC USA and N Mexico.
  • A. c. atlanticus (Kennard, 1927) – NW Greenland and islands in N Baffin Bay, Canada. Winters in CE USA.
  • Descriptive notes

    66–84 cm; male c. 2700–3800 g, female 3065 g (atlanticus), male 1600–2300 g, female 2280 g (nominate); wingspan 132–165 cm. Only possible... read more


    Most frequent is hard cackling, rather nasal and high-pitched, “la-luk”, likened to barking by... read more


    Low, grassy tundra, generally in close association with water (ponds, shallow lakes or river deltas... read more

    Food and feeding

    Essentially vegetarian; roots, tubers, leaves, grasses, stems and seed heads of various aquatic plants and sedges; in winter also grain and... read more


    Starts Jun, typically as soon as areas become free of snow and usually within 7–10 (exceptionally c. 17) days of arrival on nesting... read more


    Migratory, departs breeding grounds to winter along Atlantic and Gulf coasts of USA, and in SW... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Numerous, with increase of nominate race in C North America, from 424,600 in 1969 to 1,358,000 in 1988 and now speculated to number... read more

    Recommended citation

    Carboneras, C., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 6 December 2019).