Thursday, March 8, 2018

Ross's Geese at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge: Preparing for a long journey north...

They are still there by the thousands, but not for very much longer. The Ross's Goose (Anser rossii) spends winters at a few select refuges in California's Great Valley, but when spring arrives, they will migrate thousands of miles north to the Arctic. Their favored breeding grounds are on Baffin Island, the shoreline of Hudson Bay, and the shore of the Arctic Sea.

The Ross's Goose is smaller than most goose species but they are very similar in appearance to the Snow Goose. Both are completely white except for the black wing tips, but the beak of the Ross's is pink. The Snow Goose beak is pink on top, but with a black outline around the "lips". It doesn't help that they like to gather together with Snow Geese in huge flocks.

We got these pictures at one of our favorite places in the Great Valley, the Merced National Wildlife Refuge. There were hundreds of them visible from the autotour route, but there may have been several thousand hidden in the interior of the refuge. But not for very much longer. Like the Sandhill Cranes, they are getting restless, and ready to fly to their summer homes.


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