9 Types Of Geese In Wisconsin (Photo And ID Guide)

This guide will teach you how to identify the several varieties of geese that may be seen in Wisconsin, as well as when and where you are most likely to observe them. It will also teach you some interesting facts about them.

In Wisconsin, nine of the thirteen Goose species found in North America have been discovered. Apart for Canada Geese, who may be seen all year, they are frequently spotted here during migration.

A group of geese is called a gaggle. But have you heard all the names given to geese, such as shien, wedge, and a plump?

A gaggle is a collection of geese. But have you heard the names shien, wedge, and plump? These are some of the other names for geese.

Or that, due to their territorial habits and loud honking, they have been employed as pets’ guards for centuries!

In the United States, it is unlawful to damage geese, their eggs, or their nests without authorization from the government. USFWS – Fish and Wild Service

9 Types Of Geese In Wisconsin:


1. Canada Goose

In Wisconsin, Canada Geese may be seen all year and are very common. For the state, they’re spotted on 26% of summer checklists and 21% of winter checklists submitted by bird watchers.

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

Canada Geese have the same black head and white chin strap as Cackling Geese, but their long, graceful neck and large size set them apart.

Their skin is brown, and their chest and rump are pale in color. The bodies of the subspecies might be gray or brown in color. 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 are known for breeding in Canada and migrating to southern U.S. states during the winter, but remaining in northern US states throughout the year. Western Europe is also home to these creatures.

Canada Geese may be found practically anywhere. They’re often spotted around lakes and rivers, particularly when there’s a lot of food nearby. They live happily in metropolitan environments such as city parks, reservoirs, golf courses, public parks, and beaches because they are also used to people.

Their population has grown significantly in several areas, prompting authorities to label them pests.

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

Canada Goose nests are frequently found near water, in an elevated area. In a nest composed of plant material and down, the female deposits up to nine eggs. The male stays nearby, protecting the eggs, while she incubates them for around a month.

Their parents take them to a meal source when they are hatched, where they learn to eat. When parents sense danger or threats to their family, they are fiercely territorial and violent.

Fun Fact: Since the breeding season and molting season overlap, adults shed their flying feathers. Just in time for them to fly with their young, they only regrow their feathers after twenty to forty days.

2. Greater White-fronted Goose

During migration, Greater White-fronted Geese are frequently seen in Wisconsin, although they may be seen here year-round. They are most prevalent around March and account for 4% of checklists at that time.

In Europe, the Greater White-fronted Goose is called the White-fronted Goose, whereas in North America it is called the Greater Whitefront.

Greater White-fronted Geese are both rather big geese, and both sexes appear 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 circle the base of its orange beak, is what distinguishes them. 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 breed mostly in Canada and migrate to the United States and Mexico for the winter in North America. They are, however, distributed throughout Europe and east Asia.

The west of northern Canada is home to Greater White-fronted Geese, which spend the winter along the West Coast of the United States, The Gulf Coast, and Mexico.

During the breeding season, Greater White-fronted Geese may be found in marshy tundra, bogs, rivers, and lakes. They shelter in agricultural land, marshes, bays, and lakes during the winter.

Both land and water are used by Greater White-fronted Geese. They eat agricultural fields’ crops, such as seeds and grains. Grasses and berries are also eaten by them. They forage for aquatic insects and mollusks while near water.

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

Fun Fact: Greater White-fronted Geese have strong family ties that last over time. The young stay with their parents until the next breeding season, migrating together, even with their offspring.

3. Cackling Goose

During the winter in Wisconsin, Cackling Geese may be seen, but their numbers increase from March to April and October to November. During migration, they are seen in 2% of checklists.

Cackling Geese look a lot like Canada Geese and are native to North America. They used to belong to the Canada Goose family, but in 2004 they were designated as a separate species.

The head and neck of Cackling Geese are black, with a white chinstrap patch. Their accounts are small, black, and triangular. They have white barbing all over and are light brown or tan in color.

Cackling Geese have stubbier bills, steeper foreheads, and shorter necks than Canada Geese, although they are smaller in size.

The white chinstrap subspecies, for example, has slight variations in size or coloring and is one of four subspecies with the distinctive black heads and necks.

  • 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 winter after breeding in Canada and Alaska.

Cackling Geese may be seen in wetlands and meadows all year. In the winter, they frequently join flocks and blend with other geese in lakes, marshes, and fields, but in the summer, they prefer the tundra.

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

Cackling Geese nests may be found in clusters or alone. They’re generally found near the water, in a shallow depression with a little bit of elevation. Females make the nests out of plant materials and down. She will keep up to eight eggs in there for around a month while they are being incubated.

Fun Fact: Cackling Geese are easily recognized from Canada Geese because of their distinct “cackling” voice or high-pitched cry.

4. Snow Goose

During the migration seasons of March to April and October to December, snow geese are common in Wisconsin, but they may be seen throughout the winter. During migration, they’re found in 1% of checklists.

The Snow Goose is aptly named because this goose is totally white except for its black wingtips, pink bill with a black grin patch, and pink legs and feet.

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

It comes in two colors: the Blue Goose, which has a white head but dark blue-gray body, and the White Goose. Due to their feeding, both Snow Geese types might acquire a “stained” head on rare occasions.

Both variants have similar sexes, although they may vary in size. Males are generally bigger than females.

Dusky gray-brown is the color of juvenile white morphs, while dark gray is the color of juvenile blue morphs. The distinctive pink beak and black grin patch are still visible on both.

  • 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, but breed mostly in Canada.

In freshwater marshes and agricultural grain fields, you may find both Snow and Blue Geese together. They prefer salt marshes and coastal coves during the winter, but will visit plowed fields or wetlands as well.

Snow geese are herbivores who eat a lot. Water-logged soil or shallow water are regular meal sources. Plant vegetation, such as grasses, sedges, willows, rushes, and horsetails are among their favorite foods. Seeds, grains, and plants ripped up by their roots will also be eaten.

On tundra, snow goose nests are typically found in huge colonies. Because females return to the location where they were born to breed, they construct a nest, which is generally a shallow depression on the ground.

She lines the nest with grasses and down after she’s laid the first three to five eggs. Goslings take around twenty-four days to incubate, and they are able to feed themselves after hatching.

Fun Fact: When Snow Geese breed for life, they pick the same color morph as themselves.

5. Ross’s Goose

In Wisconsin, Ross’ geese are seen from September through May, although they are not particularly frequent.

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

Ross’ Goose has a dark phase variant, although it’s uncommon. It has a dark gray neck, underparts, and back, as well as a white head with a brownish bill.

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

Ross’ geese spend the winter in the United States and breed in northern Canada.

Throughout the winter, you may locate Ross’ geese in both salt and freshwater marshes. They breed on the arctic tundra throughout the breeding season.

Geese raised by Ross graze on grass, sedges, and tiny grains foraged from marshes, meadows, and fields.

Ross’ geese are grazers that feed on grass, sedges, and little grains gathered from marshes, meadows, and fields. They are frequent feeders on grass.

In colonies on lake islands and arctic tundra, Ross’ Geese nests can be found. Females lay down nests made of grasses, moss, leaves, and twigs on the ground. Each female breeds lays four to five eggs, which she nurtures for three weeks.

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

6. Brant

In Wisconsin, Brant Geese are considered uncommon or accidental, but during migration season, you may see a few in the state’s south.

A black head, neck, and chest distinguish the Brant Goose, which has a white collar or marking on its neck and a white rump. Yet, there are numerous sub-species, some of which have lighter or darker coloring.

  • 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. Europe is also home to them.

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

In both land and water, Brant geese primarily eat plant material. They prefer eelgrass, but they’ll eat any grass that’s available. Sedges, pondweed, and aquatic insects are among the foods they consume.

In tundra ponds or on high spots, Brant Goose nests are often discovered on tiny islands. They’re made of grass down and are shallow bowls.

Females may lay up to seven eggs, which take three to four weeks to hatch. The parents take the youngsters to the feeding place when the eggs hatch, and they can feed themselves.

Fun Fact: Brant Geese have a lifespan of up to 28 years.

7. Barnacle Goose

In Wisconsin, the Barnacle Goose is a rare species. They were last seen near Clayton in 2018, and they’re highly unusual in the state.

The medium-sized yet delicate-looking Barnacle Geese are a kind of goose. Their beaks are short and black, their head, neck, and upper chest are black, their bellies are white, and their wings and back are silver-gray with black and white bands.

V-shaped rumps and silver-gray linings may be seen while in the air.

  • Branta leucopsis
  • Length: 23 – 28 in (58 – 71 cm)
  • Weight: 62.4 oz (1768 g)
  • Wingspan: 52 – 56 in (132 – 142 cm)

The North Atlantic is home to Barnacle Geese, who breed and migrate throughout the year.

Salt marshes, grassy meadows, pastureland, and agricultural fields are all good places to look for Barnacle Geese. They usually occupy islets, islands, and near-shore cliff ledges throughout the breeding season.

Barnacle Geese feed mainly on grass, whether on tundra, near water or on farmlands. They also feed on aquatic vegetation and insects when near water and crops and grains in fields.

Nests of Barnacle Geese are often built on cliff ledges to protect the eggs from predators. The female uses mud and dead foliage to create the nest and lines it with soft down feathers.

To keep the eggs safe from predators, Barnacle Geese nests are often built on cliff ledges. The nest is lined with soft down feathers and made out of mud and dead foliage by the female.

For twenty-five days, the female incubates her eggs. The fry are escorted to marshes with plenty of flora so they may feed themselves when the eggs hatch. After roughly 45 days, they fledge.

For twenty-five days, the female incubates her five eggs. The juveniles are taken to marshes with plenty of greenery so that they may feed themselves when the eggs hatch. It took them around 45 days to fledge.

Fun Fact: The name Barnacle Goose comes from a Medieval tale about how they originated from Barnacles.

8. Emperor Goose

In Wisconsin, Emperor Geese are exceedingly uncommon, but in Beloit in 2022, they were sighted.

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

Both Emperor Geese males and femen have the same appearance. Their heads are white, and their bills, chins, necks, bodies, and tails are pink. Their legs are blue-gray with scalloped patterns.

During the summer, Emperor Geese eat in tidal pools with iron oxide, and their heads turn reddish-brown or orange.

The color of juveniles is duller. The heads and necks are dark. Their legs are heavier in color and have a grayish-black appearance.

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

Emperor Geese migrate north in the winter, to the Bering Sea, where they reside in the arctic and subarctic.

Throughout the summer, you may locate the Emperor Goose in freshwater tidal ponds, inland lakes, and coastal lagoons. Mudflats, stony beaches, and coastal tundra are all home to them during the winter.

Emperor Geese consume a variety of foods depending on their habitat and season. They feed exclusively on land during the breeding and nesting season, eating grasses, sedges, berries, roots, and bulbs.

They stampede on mudflats to dislodge clams during the winter and forage by “puddling.” Crustaceans, bivalve mollusks, barnacles, eelgrass, and sea lettuce are among the foods they consume when they’re near or on water.

Emperor Goose nests are frequently found amid the marshes, in shallow depressions on the ground. The female deposits four to six eggs in the nests, which she lines with leaves and her own feathers.

She may, however, deposit up to eight eggs in other Emperor Geese nests… gutsy!

The female takes twenty-four days to incubate. After a few hours, the goslings are able to walk, swim, and feed themselves.

Fun Fact: The adult Emperor Goose wears a white crown and nape that creates the look of ermine trim on a royal cloak, which is why it gets its name.

9. Egyptian Goose

In Wisconsin, Egyptian Geese are an accidental species, and they were only discovered in 2020 around Lake Kegonsa State Park.

The Egyptian Goose was formerly only seen in zoos and aviaries, but it has now spread to invasive population levels in several nations.

Egyptian Geese have characteristics that make them easily recognized. A brown patch surrounds their golden-yellow or orange eyes. Their bills are pink on top and black on the bottom, and their heads are whitish-gray with some reddish tints at the nape.

A reddish-brown collar surrounds them. Their backs and wings are a mix of white, green, brown, and black, while their breasts are tan. Their bellies are white with gray linings. The legs and feet are pink in color.

The head and nape of juveniles are darker reddish-brown. On their bellies, they are usually tan or light brown. Dark brown backs and wings cover them.

  • Alopochen aegyptiaca
  • Length: 24 – 29 in (61 – 74 cm)
  • Weight: 70 – 77.5 oz (1984 – 2196 g)
  • Wingspan: 52 – 60 in (132 – 152 cm)

Escaped Egyptian Geese may be found in Europe and North America, despite their native habitat being Africa.

Egyptian Goose may be found in open, wetlands, and wooded areas near water. Zoos and aviaries are also common places for them to be kept.

Seeds, leaves, grasses, and plant stems are all favorites of Egyptian Geese. Algae and aquatic plants, insects, and small animals will also be consumed by them.

Egyptian Goose nests may be discovered on the ground, in tree hollows, caves, and other animal dens. The nests, which contain up to 22 eggs and take around a month to hatch, are mostly made of grasses, leaves, and down.

The young have to learn how to feed themselves, but their parents will take care of them.

Fun Fact: In Ancient Egypt, the Egyptian Goose was considered a sacred bird and appears in a lot of paintings.

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