RossHyb053acw.jpg (32521 bytes)Ross's Goose, Chen rossii, and hybrids, in New York.

All pictures are Jay and Kevin McGowan.  They were taken with either an Olympus D-450 or an Olympus D-40 digital camera through a Swarovski HD-80, ATS 80, or ATS 65 spotting scope.

 

Savannah Mucklands, Wayne Co., NY, March 2004.

Hybrid and Ross's Goose, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Co. 2 March 2002.

 

 


Hybrid and Ross's Goose, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Co. 2 March 2002.

We noticed two small white geese in with a massive Snow Goose flock on the west side of Cayuga Lake, offshore of Seneca Co. (along with two small Canada Geese, now Cackling Geese).  Pete Hosner, who had recently worked in the Arctic as a field assistant on Snow Goose research, declared that the slightly larger bird with a more rounded bill/face margin would have been called a Ross's X Snow Goose hybrid in their study area. 

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The "real" Ross's Goose was tiny, with a very small, triangular bill.  The posterior margin of the bill was very straight against the face, making a straight line, quite in contrast to the strong curve at the base of the Snow Geese's bills.  It showed a dark green patch at the base of the bill and no sign of a dark grin patch at edge of the tomia.

 

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The hybrid was small, but just a bit larger than the Ross's Goose.   Its bill was not quite so petit and triangular, but was still noticeably smaller and more triangular than that of a Snow Goose.  The posterior margin of the bill was less curved than the Snow Geese, but was slightly curved.  The base was dark green, but a dark line showed along the bill edge, much smaller than the grin patches of the Snow Geese, but visible.

The two small geese may have been a mated pair.  They stayed close together and allowed us to get a few photographs of them side-by-side.  The differences are much more apparent when they are together.

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In this shot the hybrid is on the right, and is quite obviously smaller than the Snow Geese.  The Ross's Goose is to the left, just sticking its head out from behind the larger geese.

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The difference in curvature of the bill/face edge is apparent here, as is the difference in bill size and shape.

 

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Not the sharpest photo, but the one that shows the bill differences best.

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Ross's Goose, Savannah Mucklands, Wayne Co., NY, March 2004.

Jay took these photos of a slightly hybrid-looking bird on 11 March 2004, amongst a tremendous flock of Snow Geese.

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We took these photos of a more typical Ross's Goose two days later on 13 March 2004.

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Revised: October 25, 2004.