|Conservation status||Population apparently still increasing, as with some other Arctic-nesting geese (Snow and White-fronted). Ross's Goose often hybridizes with Snow Goose, but evidently not enough to be genetically "swamped" by the Snows.|
|Family||Ducks and Geese|
|Habitat||Tundra (summer), marshes, grain fields, ponds. In summer on Arctic tundra, especially flat tundra with mix of grassy areas and low matted thickets of dwarf birch or willow. In migration and winter, shallow lakes, freshwater marshes, flooded stubble fields, other agricultural lands.|
Forages mainly by walking on land, or wading or swimming in shallow water. During migration and winter, feeds in flocks, usually with Snow Geese.
4, sometimes 2-6, rarely 1-8. Dull white, becoming nest-stained. Female does all incubating, usually 21-23 days. Young: Leave the nest shortly after hatching, following parents to water. Both parents tend the young; male is most active in defense against predators. Young fledge in 40-45 days.
Leave the nest shortly after hatching, following parents to water. Both parents tend the young; male is most active in defense against predators. Young fledge in 40-45 days.
almost entirely plant material. Diet for most of year is mainly green grasses and sedges. On arrival on breeding grounds, before new growth is available, do much grubbing for roots. In fall migration, feeds more on seeds and grains of wild grasses or cultivated crops.
First breeding at age of 2 or 3 years. Courtship involves rapid head-dipping by both members of pair. Breeds in colonies, usually associated with colonies of Snow Goose. Nest site is often on island or shore of tundra lake, usually on edge of low thicket. The same site is often used for more than 1 season. Nest is a bulky bowl of twigs, leaves, grass, moss, lined with down. Female builds nest, beginning about the time the first egg is laid, continuing after incubation begins.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Main population migrates from Northwest Territories to central California, traveling along a rather narrow route with traditional stopovers, especially in Alberta and Montana. In recent years, numbers wintering in New Mexico and east of Rockies have increased markedly. Migrate in flocks, often mixed with Snow Geese, sometimes with other geese. Strays appearing far out of range may have arrived by traveling with other species.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSoft cackling and grunting notes.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Ross's Goose
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Ross's Goose
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.