Goose Information / OverviewPhotos of the Different Goose Species for IdentificationSpecies Index of Geese

Ross's Goose (Chen rossii or Anser rossii)


Ross's Goose

The Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii or Anser rossii) is a North American goose.


Discovery and Naming of this Goose

In 1861, Mr. Bernard Ross sent a specimen of this small goose taken at the Great Slave Lake, Canada, to Mr. Cassin for identification. Mr. John Cassin — at that time the Curator of Birds at the Academy of Natural Sciences – honored Mr. Ross by naming this goose after him.


Distribution / Range

This species breeds in northern Canada and winters in the southern United States (primarily central California). Smaller numbers can also be found from Colorado to central Mexico and on the Texas coast. Scattered populations exist along the East Coast.

The Ross’s Goose is a rare vagrant to Western Europe, but it is commonly kept in wildfowl collections and so the true frequency of wild birds is hard to ascertain. Individuals or small groups have turned up in Holland and Britain, however, which seemed to be of natural origin.


Ross’s Goose, Chen rossii or Anser rossii


This small white goose averages 22 to 25 inches in length and weighs between 30 to 73 ounces. The plumage is white except for black wing tips. It has dark eyes and a short, triangular pink-colored bill. It has a round head, dark-pink legs, and a greenish warty patch at base of bill.

It looks like a miniature version of the more common white-phase Snow Goose, except it is approximately 40% smaller. Also its bill is smaller in proportion to its body and this species lacks the “black lips”. The dark phase is extremely rare.

Both genders look alike, but the male is slightly larger.

The plumage of immature birds is pale gray above and white below. There is a grey line through the eyes. Their legs, feet and bill are grey, turning pink as they mature.



The hen incubates the eggs while the male stays nearby and guards the nest. The female covers the eggs with down when she leaves the nest, to keeps the eggs warm while she is away and also to hide them from predators.



Diet / Feeding:

Ross’s Geese primarily eat various grasses, sedges, legumes, and domestic grains

Ducks and geese generally feed on larvae and pupae usually found under rocks, aquatic animals, plant material, seeds, small fish, snails and crabs.

Feeding Ducks and Geese …

We all enjoy waterfowl and many of us offer them food to encourage them to come over and stay around – and it works! Who doesn’t like an easy meal!

However, the foods that we traditionally feed them at local ponds are utterly unsuitable for them and are likely to cause health problems down the road. Also, there may be local laws against feeding this species of bird – so it’s best to check on that rather than facing consequences at a later stage.

Please note that feeding ducks and geese makes them dependent on humans for food, which can result in starvation and possibly death when those feedings stop. If you decide to feed them, please limit the quantity to make sure that they maintain their natural ability to forage for food themselves – providing, of course, that natural food sources are available.


Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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