by Joan Smedinghoff
March 02, 2018
Tens of thousands of migrating snow geese flock to a farm field near Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area while tundra swans swim in Lancaster County, Pa., on February 25, 2018. That day, the Pennsylvania Game Commission estimated that 30,000 snow geese, more than 3,500 tundra swans, and 2,000 Canada geese visited Middle Creek. The week before, the site hosted a record 200,000 snow geese.
The snow goose (Chen caerulescens) has one of the largest populations of any goose species in the world, ranking behind only the Canada goose in population size and harvest. They make the Chesapeake Bay region their home during the winter, but migrate back to the Arctic tundra to breed during the spring and summer. There, their nesting colonies can number in the tens of thousands.
Snow geese come in two morphs, or color patterns: white and blue. The blue goose was once thought to be a distinct species, but is now known to be a dark phase of the same goose. Many mate for life, and tend to choose a partner of the same color morph as the family members they grew up with.
Learn more about snow geese in our Field Guide.