The delightful little Ross’s Goose is a more petite version of the familiar Snow Goose. Like the latter, its plumage is snow-white, contrasting with its black pinions, while there is also a blue phase, though it is much rarer than with the Snow Goose. The tiny bill is distinctive, and it lacks the so-called grinning patch (space between cutting edges of mandibles) of its larger relative. Old ganders typically display bluish warts at the base of the red bill. Their calls are higher pitched and less musical than those of the Snow Goose.
An arctic breeding bird, its nesting grounds in the Perry River region of Canada’s North West territory were only discovered in 1938, when almost the entire population wintered in California’s Sacramento Valley. In recent decades the population has expanded considerably, with nesting birds now to be found as far east as Baffin Island, and flocks now wintering regularly in New Mexico, Louisiana and Texas.
Their attractive appearance and pleasant disposition have long made this goose popular in collections, where they do best if kept in small flocks on fresh lawns. Only the goose incubates the clutch of 3–5 pinkish eggs, though the gander remains with her throughout. The eggs hatch after 20–22 days. Wild hybrids with Snow Geese are not uncommon, so in captivity the two species are best kept apart.