Bird Database

Snow Goose

(Anser caerulescens)

State of the Birds
At a Glance



Short distance





Conservation Actions

Manage waterfowl harvest

Snow Goose

(Anser caerulescens)

Not to be confused with a white domestic goose (which is larger, has an orange bill, and lacks black wingtips), the Snow Goose is always a treat to see in New Hampshire. The Granite State lies at the extreme eastern edge of this species’ Atlantic Flyway migration route, which takes birds from the shores of Hudson Bay to salt marshes along the mid-Atlantic coast. Most of these birds pass along the St. Lawrence River and through New York State, with the closest concentration to New Hampshire being in the Lake Champlain Valley of Vermont. There you can see hundreds if not thousands in November and December, in contrast to – if you’re lucky – mere dozens on this side of the Green Mountains. Because it’s father west, the best place to see Snow Geese in New Hampshire is the Connecticut Valley, with increasingly smaller numbers in the Merrimack Valley and near the Seacoast.

Snow Goose populations have been on the increase for decades, to the extent that high densities in their arctic nesting areas are beginning to damage habitat and reduce food supplies. Much of this increase is believed to be a result of birds adapting to agricultural areas for foraging in the winter. High food availability in cornfields and ricefields has led to high overwinter survival, and regulation through hunting has not kept up with the higher numbers of geese. Habitat degradation in nesting areas may be implicated in declines of other tundra-nesting species such as Semipalmated Sandpipers and other shorebirds.

There are two color morphs of Snow Geese: the “typical” white version and the “Blue Goose,” which was once considered a separate species. This difference is the result of a single gene, and the proportions of the two morphs varies geographically. “Blue” birds are rarest in the east, uncommon in the far west, and variable within populations that migrate though the interior of North America. Most “Blue Geese” we see in NH are in the spring, suggesting that they come from populations farther to the west than the fall birds. 

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Snow Goose
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count