National Marine Conservation Areas of Canada
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Canada’s National Marine Conservation Areas System Plan
Snow goose (Anser caerulescens)
© Parks Canada / Dorothea Kappler, 1995
The most abundant of the world's wild geese, the snow goose presents a perplexing array of names and colour phases. Though most 'lesser' and 'greater' snow geese are snow white with black wing tips, their scientific name actually means 'blue goose', a confusing state of affairs as this refers only to the blue form of the lesser snow goose, which is bluish-grey with a white head. To complicate matters even more, all forms often have a rust-coloured face, a result of grubbing in iron-rich mud to get at the roots of the salt marsh grasses which they feed on along the coast. The snow goose breeds in colonies of various sizes in the Arctic and large migratory concentrations build up in James Bay and along the St. Lawrence River east of Quebec City.