If asked, “What is the most populous goose in North America?”, many would say, “The Canada goose!” without hesitation. Afterall, you can hardly visit an urban park without seeing these birds! According to researchers, however, the title actually goes to the lesser snow goose. Once you see a massive flock of these gorgeous birds covering the sky and dominating the soundscape with a cacophony of squawks and honks, all doubts that they’re the top goose will fly from your mind.
Four distinct populations of snow goose have been identified. The High Plains Snow Goose Festival honors the Western Central Flyway population, whose wintering grounds are in southeastern Colorado, New Mexico, the Texas panhandle, and northern Mexico. In early February, they begin their annual journey to breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic, making stops along the way as happens on any good, long trip. The festival is held in Lamar, CO, where there is ample wetland habitat for sky-weary geese to use for rest and feeding.
Join fellow birders and celebrate one of the most spectacular creatures in Colorado! Registration is free. Learn more here: High Plains Snow Goose Festival
Lesser Snow Goose Facts:
Lesser snow geese come in two color “morphs” – the familiar nearly all-white morph with black wing tips and the “blue” morph which has dark blue, nearly black feathers and a white head.
Snow geese are divided into two subspecies: the lesser snow goose (Chen caerulescens caerulescens) and the greater snow goose (Chen caerulescens atlantica).
Snow geese are ground nesters, using dry vegetation and pieces of the mother’s down to line shallow depressions they make in the ground. The mother incubates a clutch of 3 to 5 eggs while the male guards the mother and the nest.