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

This guide will teach you what kinds of geese you may see in Idaho, as well as when and where you might expect to see them. It’ll also provide some interesting information about the birds.

Idaho has been home to seven of the thirteen species of geese that may be found in North America. Although Canada Geese may be seen year-round, other species are only visible during migration or in the winter, and a few are uncommon visitors.

A gaggle is a flock of geese. Yet, are you aware of the term shien, wedge, and plump that are given to geese?

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

Or maybe their territorial behavior and loud honking have been used to protect pets, people, and even countries for centuries!

In the United States, it is unlawful to damage geese, their eggs, or their nests without permission from the government. US Fish and Wildlife Service (Fish and Wild Service)

You may learn more about ducks in Idaho or swans in Idaho if you like seeing waterbirds in Idaho.

7 Types Of Geese In Idaho:

1. Canada Goose

In Idaho, Canada geese can be found throughout the year. Summer checklists for the state include 22% of them, whereas winter checklists include 34%.

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

Canada Geese have the same black head and white chin strap as Cackling Geese, but their lengthy, graceful neck and huge bulk differentiate them.

Their chests and rump are white, and their bodies are brown. The bodies of the subspecies may be gray or brown in color. Black is the color of their 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 are indigenous to Canada and migrate to southern US states during the winter, while those in northern US states do not migrate throughout the year. Western Europe is also home to them.

Canada Geese may be found practically anywhere. These creatures are frequently found near lakes and rivers, especially in regions where there is a plentiful food supply. They also live happily in urban environments such as city parks, reservoirs, golf courses, public parks, and beaches because they are used to humans.

They’ve become pests in several areas where their population has exploded.

While on land, Canada Geese prefer grasses, while in the water, they prefer small aquatic insects and fish. While on agricultural fields, they also eat wheat, rice, and corn. People have been feeding them or digging through trash cans since they were puppies.

Canada Goose nests are commonly found in elevated places near water. In a nest constructed of plant material and down, the female lays up to nine eggs. When the male stays nearby, protecting the eggs for about a month, she incubates them.

Their parents bring them to a meal source where they can feed themselves after they hatch. When parents sense danger or threats to their family, they are extremely territorial and violent.

Fun Fact: Adults lose their flying feathers during the breeding season, which happens around the same time as they molting. Just in time for them to fly with their young, they only regrow their feathers after a twenty-to-forty-day period.

2. Snow Goose

Snow Geese may be found in 1% of winter checklists and are most often seen in Idaho between October and May. Some, on the other hand, can be found across the state all year.

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.

Surprisingly, the Blue Goose has a white head and a dark blue-gray body, which is another variant. Due to their feeding, both Snow Geese types might have a “stained” head at times.

Both forms have comparable sexes, although the sizes may vary. Males have a tendency to outnumber females.

The dusky gray-brown color of juvenile white morphs contrasts with the dark gray color of juvenile blue morphs. They, on the other hand, both have the characteristic pink beak and black grin patch.

  • 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 spot Snow Geese and Blue Geese mixed together. They prefer salt marshes and coastal coves in the winter, but will also visit plowed fields or wetlands.

Snow Geese are vegetarians that consume a lot of food. Water-logged soil or shallow water is often used to feed them. Grasses, sedges, willows, rushes, and horsetails are among the plants they prefer to eat. They’ll also consume seeds, grains, and plants that have been ripped up by their roots.

Snow Goose nests are often discovered in vast colonies on tundra. Because females return to the place where they hatched to breed, the female creates a nest, which is usually a shallow depression on the ground that can be reused many times.

She lines the nest with grasses and down after she has laid the first three to five eggs. The goslings spend around twenty-four days in the nest before emerging on their own.

Fun Fact: Snow Geese choose a color morph that is comparable to their own when they breed.

3. Greater White-fronted Goose

During migration, Greater White-fronted Geese are frequently seen in Idaho. During this time of year, they are most often seen on checklists and may be seen in 5% of all checklists.

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 substantial geese, with males and females looking similar.

They’re frequently mistaken with the Graylag Goose due to their barred feathers, which are mostly gray all-over. The “white front,” or the white feathers that surround the base of its orange beak, sets them apart. On their underparts, they have black flecks as well.

  • 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 in North America breed primarily in Canada and go to the United States and Mexico for the winter. Nonetheless, Europe and east Asia are also home to them.

Greater White-fronted Geese spend the winter along the West Coast of the United States, The Gulf Coast, and Mexico, where they breed in the west of northern Canada.

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

Both land and water are used by Greater White-fronted Geese. Agricultural fields provide them with food such as seeds and grains. Grasses and berries are also consumed by them. They search for aquatic insects and mollusks when near water.

Greater White-fronted Geese nests are commonly seen in tundra lowlands, in shallow depressions. These are generally shaped like a teardrop and lined with grass and down. Over two to three weeks, the female sits on them.

Fun Fact: Long-term family ties exist among Greater White-fronted Geese. The young stay with their parents until the following breeding season, even if they migrate together and with their offspring.

4. Cackling Goose

From October to May, Cackling Geese can be found in Idaho’s winter. These are seen in 1% of winter checklists.

Native to North America, Cackling Geese look a lot like Canada Geese. They were first classified as part of the Canada Goose family, but in 2004 they were designated as a full species.

The head and neck of cackling geese are black, with a white chinstrap patch. Their triangular black bills are small and short. They have white barring on their entire body and are light brown or tan in color.

Cackling Geese, on the other hand, have stubbier bills, steeper foreheads, and shorter necks than Canada Geese. They are also smaller in size.

The white chinstrap subspecies is one of four that feature black heads and necks, although each has minor variations in size and color.

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

Cackling Geese migrate to the United States for the winter after breeding in Canada and Alaska.

Cackling Geese can be found in wetlands and meadows year-round. In the winter, they often join flocks and mingle with other geese in lakes, marshes, and fields; however, in the summer, they prefer to stay on the tundra.

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

Cackling Goose nests are solitary or grouped together. They’re normally found near the water, in a shallow depression, but slightly elevated. The nests are built by the females using plant material. She will incubate up to eight eggs in there for approximately a month.

Fun Fact: The distinctive “cackling” voice or high-pitched cry of Cackling Geese distinguishes them from Canada Geese.

5. Ross’s Goose

In Idaho, Ross’ geese are either a unique or an accidental species, but they have been documented during migration.

Snow Geese, with whom Ross’ geese frequently congregate, are very comparable to Ross’s. Their small, gray-based red-orange bills are short and stubby, their pink-red legs and feet are stubby, and their black wingtips are black. The female is somewhat smaller than the male, and both sexes are similar.

Ross’ Goose has a dark phase variation, however it’s incredibly unusual. The bill is brownish, with a red patch, and the neck, underparts, and back are dark gray.

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

The Ross’s Geese breed lives in the United States during the winter and breeds in northern Canada.

Ross’ Geese can be found in both salt and freshwater marshes during the winter. They’ll breed on the Arctic Tundra throughout the breeding season.

In wetlands, meadows, and fields, Ross’s geese graze on grasses, sedges, and tiny grains. Grasses, sedges, and little grains are the grazers’ primary foods.

Ross’ Geese colonies may be found on lake islands and Arctic tundra, where nests of Ross’ Geese may be found. Females build nests out of downy grasses, moss, leaves, and twigs on the ground. Each mating female incubates four to five eggs for three weeks, producing four to five offspring.

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

6. Brant

In Idaho, Brant Geese are an uncommon species that has been classified as an accidental species. In 2021, they were last seen near Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge.

A black head, neck, and chest, a white collar or mark on the neck, and a white rump distinguish the Brant Goose from other geese. Nonetheless, there are several subspecies with varied hues, mainly lighter and darker.

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

Before going to the coasts of the United States and Mexico, Brant Geese breed in Canada and Alaska. They also dwell throughout Europe.

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

On land and in water, Brant geese eat mostly plant material. They eat eelgrass, but they’ll eat anything. Sedges, pondweed, and aquatic invertebrates are among the foods they consume.

Brant Geese nests are often found on tiny islands in tundra ponds or on high areas. They’re made of down-lined shallow grass bowls.

The female lays seven eggs, which take three to four weeks to hatch. The parents escort the youngsters to the feeding place after the eggs have hatched.

Fun Fact: Geese may live up to 28 years, according to some.

7. Emperor Goose

In Idaho, Emperor Geese are a near-threatened and unintentional species. They have only been recorded in the state once, and they haven’t been seen here in a long time, according to records.

Because they prefer coastal habitats, Emperor Geese are sometimes referred to as Beach Geese. Because of their lovely feathers, they are also known as Painted Geese.

Emperor Geese of both sexes have a similar appearance. They have pink bills, black chins and throats, blue-gray bodies with scalloped patterning, yellow-orange legs, and white tails. They both have white heads and napes (the back of the neck).

While Emperor Geese feed in tidal pools with iron oxide during the summer, their heads turn reddish-brown or orange.

Coloration in juveniles is less vibrant. The heads and necks of these animals are dark. Their legs are darker in color, and their bills are grayish-black.

  • Anser canagicus
  • Length: 26 – 28 in (66 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 110.37 oz (3128 g)
  • Wingspan: 48 – 56 in (122 – 142 cm)

During the winter, Emperor Geese reside north of the Bering Sea, in the arctic and sub-arctic regions.

Throughout the summer, you may see the Emperor Goose in freshwater tidal pools, inland lakes, and coastal lagoons. Mudflats, rocky coasts, and coastal tundra are where they spend the winter.

Emperor Geese’s diets vary depending on where they are and when. They feed on grasses, sedges, berries, roots, and bulbs throughout the breeding and nesting season. They forage exclusively on land.

They stamp their feet on mudflats to dislodge clams during the winter while foraging. Crustaceans, bivalve mollusks, barnacles, eelgrass, and sea lettuce are among the foods they eat when they’re on or near water.

Emperor Goose nests are typically found among the marshes, in shallow depressions in the ground. The nest is lined with leaves and her own feathers, and the female lays four to six eggs in the nests.

So, in other Emperor Geese nests, she may still put up to eight additional eggs.

The female incubates for twenty-four days. After a few hours, the goslings may walk, swim, and feed themselves.

Fun Fact: The mature Emperor Goose wears a white crown and nape that looks like ermine trim on a royal cloak, which gives the bird its name.

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