Ross's Goose

Chen rossii

A tiny white goose with black wingtips, the Ross's Goose is like a miniature version of the more abundant Snow Goose. It breeds in the central Arctic and winters primarily in central California, but it is becoming more frequent farther east.

Interesting Information

  • Downy young come in two colors: yellow and gray. The two forms look identical once they get real feathers.

  • Very rarely a Ross's Goose can be found that is dark-colored like a blue morph Snow Goose. These blue morph Ross's Geese are thought to be the result of hybridization with Snow Geese.

  • Prior to the 1950s the Ross's Goose was confined to well-defined breeding and wintering areas, with few seen as strays. Since that time the species has been expanding eastward, both on the breeding and wintering grounds. The change in breeding distribution has resulted in more contact and subsequent hybridization with the Snow Goose.

  • The female Ross's Goose does all of the incubation of the eggs. The male stays nearby and guards her the whole time. The female covers the eggs with down when she leaves the nest. The down keeps the eggs warm while she is away and may help hide them from predators.


Adult Description

  • Size: 57-64 cm (22-25 in)

  • Wingspan: 114 cm (45 in)

  • Weight: 860-2040 g (30.36-72.01 ounces)

  • Small goose.

  • White all over, except for black primaries.

  • Pink bill.

  • Head round.

  • Bill short and triangular.

  • Greenish warty patch at base of bill.

  • Lacks black along bill edge.

  • Legs dark pink.
  • Eyes dark.

Sex Differences

Sexes look alike, male slightly larger.


Pale gray above, white below. Gray line through eye. Legs, feet, and bill gray, turning pink.



Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Breeds on low arctic tundra, on islands in shallow lakes. Winters in agricultural fields and shallow wetlands.


Grazes on grass.


Entirely vegetarian; grasses, sedges, legumes, and domestic grains.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
    Subfamily: Anserinae
Genus: Chen
Species: Chen rossii

Similar Species

  • Snow Goose larger, has larger bill without greenish base and with black grin patch along bill edge (black "lips"). Edge of base of bill along side of face curved, not straight.

  • Ross's X Snow Goose hybrid intermediate between the two. Smaller than Snow Goose, may have small grin patch, and will show slight curve of bill edge along face.

Bird Sound

Call a high-pitched "keek keek keek."