South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Ross's Goose

Chen rossii

Length: 20 to 25 inches Wingspan: 48 to 54 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: White overall, stubby dark pink bill with warty blue base, lack of "grinning patch" seen on Snow Goose, smaller than Snow Goose.  

Ross's Goose - Chen rossiiThe Ross's Goose can sometimes be found with its close cousin, the Snow Goose, as they migrate through the state.  While quite similar, Ross's Geese can be differentiated from the Snow Goose by their smaller size, shorter stubby bill with a warty blue base, lack of a "grinning patch" on the beak, and shorter neck.  They were once considered extremely rare, but have been increasing in numbers in recent decades.  They are the smallest goose normally found in North America.

Habitat: Breeds on the Arctic Tundra, primarily in wetland areas of mixed grass and brushy thickets.  In migration and in winter, they can be found in a variety of aquatic environments, as well as agricultural fields where they may feed heavily on waste grain.

Diet: Primarily feeds on grasses and sedges.  Also can feed quite heavily on roots, seeds, and waste grain in farm fields.

Behavior: Will forage by either walking along the land, or by swimming or wading in shallow water.  Gregarious, usually in flocks.  In migration in the state, nearly always found in groups of Snow Geese.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Generally quiet.  Does have high-pitched keek-keek call, and a lower grunting call.

Migration: Summers in or near the Arctic Circle.  Most winter in central California, but with increasing numbers of the species in recent decades, they have also begun to winter in other locations in the southwestern United States.

Similar Species: Snow GooseClick here for identification tips for Snow and Ross's Goose.

Conservation Status: Populations are increasing in the past few decades.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Ross's Goose

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Ross's Goose"

3) eNature.com: Ross's Goose

4) Whatbird.com: Ross's Goose

Photo Information: March 23rd, 2003 - Western Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Ross's Goose photos.

 

Click on the range map for a higher-resolution view
Ross's Goose - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant.  Casual in winter.