What Are the Different Types of Geese?

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Geese can be found all over the world, from Egypt to Canada. Most true geese people attribute to the genera Anser, Chen or Branta. Within these genera, a number of different goose species exist.

The website Avian Web lists 52 different types of geese breeds worldwide. Some commonalities across goose species include winter migration and monogamous mating habits.

Canada Goose

A Canadian goose takes flight from the water.
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Of all the North American geese, the Canada goose, Branta canadensis, is one of the more common and recognizable species. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" website states that the Canada goose can be found all over North America with few exceptions. Year round, they live within the northern half of the United States, with the geese moving south for winter, or north into Canada for summer breeding.

Canada geese have black necks and heads, with brown backs, tan breasts and white cheeks and chinstraps. They can be found in and around any kind of water source. Canada geese are known for their loud, frequent honking sounds. Their wingspan can reach about 5.5 feet and they can weigh up to 20 pounds.

Cackling Goose

Branta hutchinsii, also known as a cackling goose, looks extremely similar to the common Canada goose. They're slightly smaller than the closely related cackling goose, but are sometimes referred to as a "mini me" of the Canada goose because of their similar appearance. However, the cackling goose has a distinctive white stripe under its chin that resembles a chinstrap of a helmet that makes it easy to tell them apart.

These geese are common to the west of the Mississippi River ranging down into Mexico and all the way up into Canada and Alaska. While they usually mate in those colder climates, they can be found nesting in areas with liquid water.

Like other types of geese breeds, these birds are migratory and spend the winters in the US and Mexico and returning to their Northern range in warmer months. Instead of the deep honks of a Canada goose, the cackling goose makes high-pitched squeals and squeaks and, yes, cackles.

Snow Goose

A snow goose glides over a marsh.
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Anser caerulescens, or snow goose, lives within a wide range of North America. The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web states they can be found around the St. Lawrence River, but migrate to New England states in spring.

These birds are nearly as common a site as Canada geese. Snow geese are smaller than Canada geese, weighing in at about 8 pounds, with a wingspan of 1.5 feet.

Snow geese have two phases--snow and blue. Adults in the snow phase have white bodies with black tips, red legs and feet, a pink bill and black around the bill. Blue phase adults differ in that their bodies are blue-gray with a white head and neck.

Ross’s Goose

A close-up of a Ross's goose swimming on the water's surface.
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Ross’s goose, or Chen rossii, is one of the smaller North American geese. This bird lives within northern regions of Canada during the summer, migrating south toward parts of Texas, California, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Mexico in the winter.

These geese are all-white with the exception of select black areas on the bill base and tail. Their bill is pink. In mature form, Ross’s geese weigh about 4.5 pounds and have a wingspan of nearly 4 feet.

Greater White-Fronted Goose

Two White-fronted geese sleep on the grass.
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The greater white-fronted goose, scientifically known as Anser albifrons, lives within some of the northernmost areas of Canada, Greenland and Alaska during the summer for breeding. In winter, these birds migrate to warmer areas west of the Mississippi River, such as California, south Texas and areas of Mexico. Outside of North America, as stated on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" website, these geese can be found on the tundra of Siberia and throughout Russia.

The body of these geese is a grayish brown, with orange feet and legs, an orange or pink-tinted bill and white forehead and bill base. A fully-grown greater white-fronted goose weighs around 7 pounds, with a 2.6 foot wingspan.

References

About the Author

Ticara Gailliard is a college graduate with a degree in communications/film and video production from the University of Memphis. She has been a writer for over 15 years and has been published in local writing magazines such as "Grandmother Earth." She also edited two books for her high school.

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