Anser caerulescens (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Anseriformes > Anatidae
Previously only a rare visitor from North America (where numbers have increased markedly), there is now a small, self-sustaining population of this white goose in Argyll.
The Snow Goose occurs in two colour morphs: a 'white' (light) morph and a 'blue' (dark) morph, controlled by a single gene.
Most of the Snow Geese present in Britain are individuals that have escaped from captivity, but a handful of genuine vagrants arrive with visiting Pink-Footed Geese. The breeding range extends from eastern Siberia, across arctic North America to Greenland.
Snow Goose identification is often straightforward.
Develop your bird ID skills with our training courses
Our interactive online courses are a great way to develop your bird identification skills, whether you're new to the hobby or a competent birder looking to hone your abilities.Browse training courses
Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
|UK winter population||-26% decrease (1995/96 to 2020/21)|
Although small numbers of genuine vagrant Snow Geese are recorded annually, the majority of individuals recorded during 2007–11 were escapes from captivity. The records of wild Snow Geese are most likely to occur at traditional staging or wintering areas of Pink-footed Geese. The breeding records are all of birds of captive origin and tend to be at sites with ornamental lakes; the only apparently self-sustaining populations were those in Argyll, on northwestern Mull and Coll in the Inner Hebrides.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
|No. occupied in breeding season||6|
|% occupied in breeding season||0.2|
|No. occupied in winter||164|
|% occupied in winter||5.4|
|% change in range in winter (1981–84 to 2007–11)||+30%|
The year-round presence of Snow Geese is a complicated mixture of naturalised residents and a small number of presumed vagrants from North America, the latter most often seen in winter with wild winter goose flocks.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
Lifecycle and body size information about Snow Goose, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
Sample sizes are too small to report Productivity and Nesting statistics for this species.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Maximum Age from Ringing||4 years 11 months 22 days (set in 2007)|
|Field Codes||2-letter: SJ | 5-letter code: SNOGO | Euring: 1630|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Would you like to search for another species?