Once considered two
separate species, the Snow Goose and the Blue Goose are now considered white and
dark morphs of one species, the Snow Goose. The two morphs readily
interbreed and may produce offspring of either morph. Note Ross's Goose
is very similar to the Snow Goose, with the primary difference being a
smaller size for the Ross's. Hunted to extremely low populations
by the start of the 1900's, huge migrations of Snow Geese now make their way
through the state, stopping at traditional locations including the lakes
around Lake Thompson in Kingsbury County and Sand Lake in Brown County.
A photo of a white and dark morph swimming together is shown on the right.
Habitat: In migration through the state,
found on shallow lakes, marshes, and flooded fields. Often feeds on waste
grain in agricultural fields.
Diet: Seeds, waste grain, leaves, roots, grasses,
aquatic vegetation, berries.
Behavior: Except during the breeding season, Snow
Geese are very gregarious, forming large flocks that sometimes include other
goose species. Foraging is primarily done by walking through shallow
water or on land.
Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota
Migration: Summers in or near the Arctic Circle, winters in scattered
locations through the United States and Mexico.
Conservation Status: The total population of Snow Geese was
reduced to only a few thousand by 1900. It has made a tremendous
comeback, to the point that overpopulation of Snow Geese on summer breeding
grounds is causing localized habitat destruction.
South Dakota "Hotspot": Thousands of Snow Goose regularly use Sand
Lake in Brown County during migration to and from their summer breeding grounds.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Snow Goose
Whatbird.com: Snow Goose
eNature.com: Snow Goose
Photo Information: Minnehaha County - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Snow Goose photos.