American Game Birds

Illustrating More Than One Hundred Species In Natural Colors

By Chester A. Reed

Page 21

SNOW GOOSE (Chen hyperboreus hyperboreus). Geese are usually larger than ducks, their bills are shorter, stouter and the "gutters" or flutings on the sides are very prominent, producing a sort of grinning effect. Adult Snow Geese are entirely white, except the primaries, which are black. The head is often or usually tinged with pale rusty and the bill and feet are pinkish. Young birds are gray or variously mottled. This variety measures about 25 in. in length. They nest on the ground within the Arctic Circle west of Hudson Bay to Alaska. In winter they are found throughout western United States and casually in the east. They usually occur in large flocks, fly high in a long, extended line and are very wary whether in flight or feeding. They live on grain, tender grasses, mollusks and insects; their flesh is palatable, but not nearly equal to that of Canada Geese.


GREATER SNOW GEESE (Chen hyperboreus nivalis) vary from the preceding only in size, measuring about 30 in. in length. Large specimens of the last are just like small ones of this, so that the distinction is not perfectly satisfactory, as it has to be based largely upon locality found. The present variety is supposed to breed east of Hudson Bay and to winter in southeastern United States. Migrates chiefly through the interior, but is not uncommon on the Atlantic coast south of Chesapeake Bay.


BLUE GOOSE (Chen caerulescens). This is midway between the two previous varieties in size and for a long time was supposed to be a color phase or a young plumage of the Snow Goose. Its breeding range is not definitely known, but is supposed to be in northern Ungava. They migrate through the Mississippi Valley and winter in the southern portions of it. They are also of rare or casual occurrence on the Atlantic coast and west of the Rocky Mountains. They cannot be termed at all abundant, but sizable flocks of them are sometimes seen and again one or two individuals may be in with a company of Snow Geese. Those who have eaten them declare their flesh to be better than that of the last species.