The Ross’s goose (Chen rossii) is the smallest goose in America, roughly the size of a mallard duck. Its diminutive size gives it a somewhat “cuter” appearance than its larger lookalike, the snow goose.
Like the snow goose, the Ross’s goose comes in both the common white morph and the much rarer blue morph. Most blue specimens are probably Ross’s goose x blue snow goose hybrids. Some experienced birders contend that true blue-morph Ross’s geese do exist, but this point remains controversial at present.
Another characteristic of the Ross’s goose is that it typically springs into the air quickly and flies with rapid wing beats, more like a mallard than a goose.
Best Field Mark
- Small size.
The Ross’s goose is very talkative, making honking kek calls similar to snow geese or Canada geese, but much shriller.
Distribution & Occurrence
Ross’s geese can be found all across Kansas, but most typically arrive in the eastern half of the state among flocks of migrating snow geese. In western Kansas, Ross’s geese sometimes show up with the smaller varieties of Canada geese.
Like its larger counterpart, the snow goose, the Ross’s goose generally arrives in late October to spend the winter on open lakes, ponds, and marshes near grain fields. It usually leaves in March.
The Ross’s goose is highly social and commonly mingles with other species of geese. It eats both grains and grasses, much like the snow goose.
Attracting Ross’s geese is not practical for the backyard birdwatcher.
Hunters attract Ross’s geese with calls and decoys similar to those used for snow geese.
The species most likely to cause confusion with the Ross’s goose is—you guessed it—the snow goose. The only significant difference between the two is size. Ross’s geese are much smaller than snow geese. Their little round faces and stubby bills give them a softer, more appealing expression, as well, but this is rather subjective. The Ross’s goose has shorter wings, which cause it to fly with faster, more ducklike wing beats.
Photos, audio, and more information from Cornell’s All About Birds site.