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Geese

Status

  • Greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons). The population in North America appears to have declined in the 1970s, but to have increased since then.
  • Lesser whitegfronted Goose (Anser erythropus). Alaskan stray. An uncommon species in its native habitat in the Old World, where it seems to be in decline. Has strayed at least once to the Aleutian Islands. Occasional sightings outside Alaska have probably been escapees from captivity.
  • Snow goose (Chen caerulescens). The population of the greater snow goose had declined to no more than 3,000 by 1900. In 1988, the snow goose population in eastern Canada was estimated to be 2.4 million, with an annual rate of increase of 130,000/year. The lesser snow goose population has undergone a pronounced increase in recent decades.
  • Ross's goose (Chen rossii). In 1983, the population in the central Canadian Arctic was estimated to be in excess of 100,000 in 30 colonies. Today, the population appears to still be increasing. This goose frequently hybridizes with the snow goose, but there is no evidence of genetic swamping by that species.
  • Canada goose (Branta canadensis). The Aleutian Canada goose is Endangered, having almost been exterminated following the introduction of foxes to the Aleutian Islands. The population of the species as a whole is probably increasing.
  • Brant (Branta bernicla). Decline due to disappearance of eelgrass along much the eastern seaboard since the 1930s. Eelgrass has also disappeared in England over the same period.
  • Bar-headed goose (Anser indicus). Exotic. Native of Central Asia. Birds that have escaped from captivity in the United States are sometimes seen in the wild.
  • Barnacle goose (Branta leucopsis). Eastern stray. Resident of Arctic coasts from Greenland to Siberia, wintering in northwestern Europe. Most strays seen in United States have escaped from captivity, though some occasionally arrive in North America from Greenland.
  • Bean goose (Anser fabalis). Alaskan stray. A common goose in northern Asia and Europe, this bird sometimes shows up in Alaska in the spring and, more rarely, in other parts of North America.
  • Chinese goose (Anser cygnoides). Exotic. Native of Asia. Domesticated birds in the United States sometimes abandon their home ponds.
  • Egyptian goose (Alopochen aegyptiacus). Exotic. Native of Africa. Sometimes escapes from captivity in the United States.
  • Emperor goose (Chen canagica). Threatened. The Alaska population, estimated at 139,000 in 1964, had declined to 42,000 in 1986. The status of the population is not well known, but the population there appears to have declined in the twentieth century.
  • Graylag goose (Anser anser). Exotic. A native of Eurasia. Rare sightings in the United States have probably been of domesticated birds that have escaped captivity.
  • Pink-footed goose (Anser brachyrhynchus). Eastern stray. Many of these birds nest in Greenland and Iceland, migrating to Britain and northwestern Europe where they spend the winter. Strays have been observed a couple of times in eastern Canada.
  • Red-breasted goose (Branta ruficollis). Exotic. A native of Eurasia. Birds that have escaped from captivity have been seen in the Northeast.

Resources

Books

Bellrose, F. C. Ducks, Geese, and Swans of North America. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1976.

Ehrlich, Paul R., David S. Dobkin, and Darryl Wheye The Birder's Handbook New York: Simon & Schuster Inc., 1988.

Godfrey, W. E. The Birds of Canada. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986.

Johnsgard, P. A. Ducks in the Wild. Conserving Waterfowl and Their Habitats. P-H Reference and Travel, 1993.

Owen, M., and J. M. Black. Waterfowl Ecology. London: Blackie, 1990.

Peterson, Roger Tory North American Birds. Houghton Miflin Interactive (CD-ROM), Somerville, MA: Houghton Miflin, 1995.


Bill Freedman Randall Frost

KEY TERMS

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Feral

—This refers to a non-native, often domesticated species that is able to maintain a viable, breeding population in a place that is not part of its natural range, but to which it has been introduced by humans.

Graminoid

—Any grass-like plant, usually referring to grasses, sedges, reeds, rushes, and other erect, monocotyledonous species.

Overhunting

—The unsustainable harvesting of wild animals at a rate greater than that of recruitment of new individuals, so that the population decreases in size.

Polymorphic

—Refers to genetically based variations in shape, size, color, and other traits.

Staging

—A characteristic of certain migratory birds, in which individuals collect in large numbers in places with extensively appropriate habitat. Weight gain in staging habitats is important to successful completion of the subsequent arduous, long-distance migration.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Gastrula to Glow dischargeGeese - Geese Of North America, Economic Importance Of Geese, Factors Affecting The Abundance Of Geese, Status