7 Types Of Geese In Alberta (Photo And ID Guide)

This guide will teach you how to identify the various goose species seen in Alberta, as well as when and where you are most likely to see them, along with some interesting facts.

In Alberta, seven of the thirteen types of geese discovered in North America have been spotted. Except for Canada Geese, which stay all year, migration is the best time to see them.

A gaggle is a group of geese. Yet have you heard of geese being given such names as shien, wedge, and plump?

Or that they have been used for centuries as guards to protect pets, people, and even countries with their territorial behavior and loud honking!

Or maybe their territorial nature and loud honking have been utilized for centuries to defend pets, people, and even countries!

In the United States, it is unlawful to hurt geese, their eggs, or their nests without authorization from the government. They are protected under the migratory bird pact. United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

7 Types Of Geese In Alberta:


1. Canada Goose

In Alberta, Canada Geese can be found all year and are especially numerous in the province. Birdwatchers in the province have reported them in 35% of summer checklists and 17% of winter checklists.

The Canada Goose, sometimes known as the Canadian goose, is a huge, long-necked bird with a black head and a distinctive white chin strap.

Canada Geese have the same black head and white chin strap as Cackling Geese, but their long, elegant neck and huge size distinguish them.

Their chests and rumps are brown, and their legs are white. The bodies of the subspecies may range in color from gray to brown. They have black legs and webbed feet.

  • Branta canadensis
  • Length: 25 – 45 in (64 – 114 cm)
  • Weight: 230.09 oz (6521 g)
  • Wingspan: 70 – 75 in (178 – 190 cm)

Canada Geese breed in Canada and go south for the winter, but they stay in the north all year and do not go south. Their name suggests that they migrate south. Western Europe is also home to these species.

Canada Geese can be found practically anywhere. These creatures are typically found near lakes and rivers, especially near areas with a rich food source. They can also live in urban settings such as city parks, reservoirs, golf courses, public parks, and beaches because they are utilized to humans.

Their population has expanded dramatically in some areas, and they’ve become nuisances.

While on land, Canada Geese eat grasses, while in the water, they eat little aquatic insects and fish. While on agricultural fields, they also eat wheat, rice, and corn. They’ve grown up eating from people and rummaging through trash bins.

Canada Goose nests are often found in elevated terrain near water. In a nest constructed of plant fibers and down, the female may lay up to nine eggs. While the male protects the eggs for roughly a month, she incubates them.

Their parents teach them how to feed themselves after they hatch. When parents sense danger or threats to their family, they become extremely territorial and violent.

Fun Fact: Adults lose their flying feathers during the breeding season, which coincides with their molting season. Just in time for them to fly with their young, they only regain their feathers after twenty to forty days.

2. Snow Goose

From March to May and September to November, Snow Geese are most frequently seen in Alberta. In the spring, they appear in 5% of checklists, while in the autumn, they appear in 7%.

Except for its black wingtips, pink beak with a black grin patch, and pink legs and feet, the Snow Goose is appropriately named because it is totally white.

The Blue Goose, which has a white head and a dark blue-gray body, is another variation that is interesting. Due to its feeding, the “stained” head of both Snow Geese breeds may appear from time to time.

Both versions have similar sexes, albeit they may differ in size. Males have a tendency to be larger than females.

Dusky gray-brown juveniles, and dark gray juveniles, are seen in juvenile white morphs. The distinct pink beak and black grin patch are still visible on both of them.

  • Anser caerulescens
  • Length: 25 – 31 in (64 – 79 cm)
  • Weight: 81.13 oz (2299 g)
  • Wingspan: 54.3 in (138 cm)

Snow Geese spend the winter in the United States, where they breed mostly in Canada.

In freshwater marshes and agricultural grain fields, you may find Snow Geese and Blue Geese mixed together. They visit plowed cornfields or wetlands in the winter, but prefer salt marshes and coastal bays.

Herbivores and voracious eaters, snow geese are. Water-logged soil or shallow water is usually consumed by them. Plant growth, such as grasses, sedges, willows, rushes, and horsetails are their favorite foods. They’ll also eat seeds, grains, and root-ripped plants.

In vast colonies on tundra, Snow Goose nests are commonly discovered. Females return to the location where they hatched to breed, so the female creates a nest, which is normally a shallow depression on the ground.

She lines the nest with grasses and down after she lays the first three to five eggs. The goslings take about twenty-four days to hatch, and they are able to survive on their own after that.

Fun Fact: When mating, snowy geese pick the same color morph as themselves and will produce offspring for life.

3. Greater White-fronted Goose

During migrations from March to May and August to October, Greater White-fronted Geese may be seen in Alberta. In the spring, they are seen in 4% of checklists, while in the autumn, they are seen in 7%.

White-fronted Goose in Europe and Greater Whitefront in North America are the two names for the Greater White-fronted Goose.

Greater White-fronted Geese are both huge geese, with males and females appearing similar.

They are frequently mistaken for the Graylag Goose because of their barred feathers, which are mostly gray all-over. The white front, or the white feathers that surround the base of its orange beak, distinguishes them. On their underparts, they have black flecks.

  • Anser albifrons
  • Length: 26 – 34 in (66 -86 cm)
  • Weight: 126.98 oz (3599 g)
  • Wingspan: 53 – 60 in (135 – 152 cm)

Greater White-fronted Geese breed in Canada and spend the winter in the United States and Mexico, with a preponderance of birds breeding in Canada. They may, however, be found in Europe and east Asia.

The Greater White-fronted Goose breeds in the far west of northern Canada during the winter, spending its time on the West Coast of the United States, The Gulf Coast, and Mexico.

During the breeding season, Greater White-fronted Geese can be found in marshy tundra, wetlands, rivers, and ponds. They inhabit agricultural lands, marshes, bays, and lakes throughout the winter.

Both land and water are foraged by Greater White-fronted Geese. Agricultural fields provide them with food such as seeds and grains. Grasses and berries are also eaten by them. They feed on aquatic insects and mollusks while swimming.

In shallow depressions on the tundra, nests of Greater White-fronted Geese may be found. These generally contain three to six eggs and are covered in grass and down. For two to three weeks, the female incubates them.

Fun Fact: Long-term family ties are formed between Greater White-fronted Geese. The young remain with their parents until the following breeding season, even migratong alongside their offspring.

4. Cackling Goose

During migration from March to April and October to December, cackling geese are typically seen in Alberta, although their numbers rise during that time period.

Canada Geese look a lot like Cackling Geese, which are found across North America. They were classified as a full species in 2004, after being placed in the Canada Goose family.

The head and neck of Cackling Geese are black, with a white chinstrap patch. Short, black, and triangular are the words on their bills. They’re white on the bottom and have a light brown or tan color.

Cackling Geese, on the other hand, have stubbier bills, steeper foreheads, and shorter necks than Canada Geese.

The white chinstrap subspecies is one of four subspecies that have black heads and necks, although they vary in size and coloration.

  • Branta hutchinsii
  • Length: 22 – 30 in (56 – 76 cm)
  • Weight: 105.9 oz (3001 g)
  • Wingspan: 43 – 47 in (109 – 119 cm)

For the winter, Cackling Geese migrate to the United States from Canada and Alaska.

Year-round, wetlands and meadows are home to Cackling Geese. In winter, they often seek out lakes, marshes, and fields to join flocks and mingle with other geese. In the summer, they favor the tundra.

Cackling Geese graze on grasses and berries in open areas and feed on sedges. In agricultural fields, they will also consume crops such as wheat, barley, beans, rice, and corn. They eat aquatic plants in the water.

Cackling Goose nests may be found in groups or alone. They’re usually found near the water in a shallow depression, although they’re somewhat higher. The nests are built by the females, who use plant materials. She will lay up to eight eggs, which she incubates for roughly a month in the process.

Fun Fact: Cackling Geese are easily recognized from Canada Geese by their distinctive cackling voice or high-pitched cry.

5. Ross’s Goose

During migration, Ross’s Geese may be seen in Alberta, particularly in the south of the province. They are not especially frequent here.

Ross’ Geese, who frequently flock with Snow Geese, are rather similar to them. Their short, gray-based red-orange bills, short and stubby, pink-red legs and feet, and black wingtips are the only things that distinguish them from other white birds. The female is somewhat smaller than the male.

Ross’ Goose has a dark phase variation, but it’s extremely unusual. It has a white crown, brownish beak with a crimson patch, black gray neck and back. It also has black neck and back.

  • Anser rossii
  • Length: 21 – 26 in (53 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 59.2 oz (1678 g)
  • Wingspan: 47 – 54 in (119 – 137 cm)

The Geese breed of Ross spend the winter in the United States, where they are reared in northern Canada.

During the winter, Ross’ Geese can be found in salt and freshwater marshes. They will breed on the Arctic Tundra during the breeding season.

Grass, sedges, and little grains are frequently eaten by Ross’ geese, which forage from marshes, meadows, and fields.

Ross’ Geese colonies may be found on lake islands and northern tundra, where they nest. Females line the nests they build on the ground with down and use grasses, moss, leaves, and twigs. Four to five eggs are laid by each breeding female, and they spend three weeks incubating them.

Fun Fact: The tiniest geese in North America are Ross’ geese.

6. Brant

In Alberta, Brant Geese are a uncommon sight and are regarded an accidental species. A fresh sighting in 2022 was reported near Flyingshot Lake.

A black head, neck, and breast, a white collar or marking on the neck, and a white rump characterize the Brant Goose, a small goose. Nevertheless, several sub-species exist, with varying degrees of brown or pink pigmentation.

  • Branta bernicla
  • Length: 22 – 26 in (56 – 66 cm)
  • Weight: 63.84 oz (1809 g)
  • Wingspan: 43 – 48 in (109 – 122 cm)

Before moving to coastal regions of the United States and Mexico, Brant Geese breed in Canada and Alaska. In addition, they reside in Europe.

During the breeding season, Brant Geese may be found in tundra, marshlands, islands, and coastal areas. Salt marshes, lagoons, mudflats, and tidal estuaries are where they spend the winter.

Both on land and in water, Brant geese consume mostly plant material. Eelgrass is preferred, but any grass will do. Sedges, pondweed, and aquatic insects are among the foods they consume.

Brant Geese nests are often discovered on little islets in tundra lakes or on high ground. They’re made of grass down and are shallow bowls.

The female lays seven eggs, which take three to four weeks to incubate. The parents bring the baby to the eating location after the eggs have hatched, so they can eat on their own.

Fun Fact: Up to 28 years may be spent with Brant Geese.

7. Tundra Bean-Goose

In Alberta, the tundra Bean-Geese are an accidental species. They’ve only been seen near Peenaquim Park in 2019, and they’re extremely uncommon in the province.

Some authorities continue to consider the Tundra Bean-Goose to be a single species, despite its close relationship to the Taiga Bean-Goose. They are already considered distinct species by the American Ornithological Society and the International Ornithologists’ Union.

A brown head and a black beak with an orange band near the middle characterize Tundra Bean-Geese. Their backs and wings are covered with a dark brown barred pattern, while their throats and flanks have light brown barring. White rumps adorn their bodies. Orange legs and feet adorn them.

Juveniles have a yellow beak, drab orange legs, and unclear barring on the flanks; males and femen alike appear alike.

The Tundra Bean Goose has a shorter beak with a smaller orange band on the bill, while the Taiga Bean Goose has a longer beak with a broad orange marking.

  • Anser serrirostris
  • Length: 28 – 33 in (71 – 84 cm)
  • Weight:120 oz (3401 g)
  • Wingspan: 53 – 64 in (135 – 163 cm)

Geese from Taiga Bean are common in Europe, but they may also be seen in North America.

Tundra Bean-Goose may be found in the tundra during the breeding season. marshes, wet meadows, lakes, and vast rivers are all likely to be visited in the winter. They also like to spend time on farms, where they can meet up with other geese.

Tundra Bean-Geese eat grass, seeds, and other small creatures in the wetlands, but cereal grains, potatoes, and other crops in agricultural fields.

Tundra Bean-Geese nests are frequently discovered amid tundra vegetation. Nests are placed in a shallow scrape on a dry hummock of moss, made of lichen and down. The female incubates four to six eggs for twenty-six days after they’ve been laid.

Fun Fact: Tundra Bean-Goose are fussy about their surroundings, so they favor fields with little grazing animals.

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