Sunday, February 25, 2018

North American Snow Geese Habitats from Alaska and Canada to Mexico


Summary: North American snow geese habitats need breeding in Alaska and Canada and, despite 75 ambushed geese in Missouri Feb. 17, 2018, wintering south to Mexico.


snow goose (Anser caerulescens) takeoff at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, northern California; Nov. 16, 2009; photo by George Lamson: US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (USFWS Headquarters), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Unknown agents with unknown agendas ambushed 75 family-flocked Ross's geese and snow geese on the migratory species' wintering grounds in North American snow geese habitats in Cass County, Missouri, Feb. 17, 2018.
Snow geese bear their common name for snowy bodies and homelands and the subspecies common names lesser and greater snow geese because of biogeography and size. They claim the respective species and subspecies scientific names Anser caerulescens, Anser caerulescens caerulescens and Anser caerulescens atlanticus (goose [with] blue-gray [form along the] Atlantic [coast]). Respective descriptions in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus (May 23, 1707-Jan. 10, 1778) and in 1927 by Frederic Hedge Kennard (Nov. 19, 1865-Feb. 24, 1937) dominate taxonomies.
Lesser and greater subspecies' life cycles expect High Arctic tundra with respective Gulf and Atlantic coastal plain bulrushes, cattails, cord-grass, panic-grass, reeds, salt-grass, sedge and wild-rice.

May through July furnish lesser and greater snow geese life cycles with nesting season months at High Arctic tundra colonies frequently favored by Ross's geese populations.
Lesser and greater snow geese graze on aquatic and terrestrial leaves, roots, seeds, stems and tubers and on winter grains and young leaves in agricultural fields. Lesser subspecies in northernmost Alaska and central-northwesternmost Canada and greater subspecies in central-northeasternmost Canada have one 2- to 6-egg annual brood in down-softened, plant-lined, hummock-scraped nests. Lesser and greater snow geese life cycles impel lifetime-mated, monogamous-paired females and males toward family-flocked, multi-generational investigations of identical breeding and wintering itineraries year after year.
North American snow geese habitats juggle common immature and mature white forms and rare immature and mature blue forms, both with elongated bills, heads and necks.

Immature blue forms keep gray bills, heads, legs, underparts, upper-parts and webfeet whereas immature whites know gray bills, legs and webfeet and gray-brown underparts and upper-parts.
Mature blue forms look dark-bellied, dark-eyed, pink-bellied, pink-footed, pink-legged and white-headed and layer dark flight and pale wing feathers on black-brown lower necks, underparts and upper-parts. White-bodied, white-headed adults with black-patched bills, dark eyes and flight feathers, gray wing patches and pink legs maintain direct, strong flight patterns with moderate wing beats. Bald eagles, bears, collectors, coyotes, foxes, hunters and wolves versus rough-legged hawks and snowy owls respectively number among lesser and greater snow geese predators and protectors.
North American snow geese habitats offer season's coldest temperature ranges, northward to southward, from minus 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 51.11 to 18.33 degrees Celsius).

Breeding grounds from northernmost Quebec through Alaska and wintering grounds from New Jersey through New Mexico, Nebraska, Illinois, Kentucky and everywhere in-between promote snow geese lifespans.
Lesser subspecies queue up 25- to 31-inch (63.5- to 78.74-centimeter) lengths, 51- to 65-inch (129.54- to 165.1-centimeter) wingspans and 60-to 96-ounce (1,700.97- to 2,721.55-gram) weights. Greater subspecies reveal 27- to 33-inch (68.58- to 83.82-centimeter) head-body lengths, 53- to 66-inch (134.62- to 167.64-centimeter) wingspans and 95.24- to 134.04-ounce (2,700- to 3,800-gram) weights. Lesser and greater subspecies signal bunched or v-shaped flight sessions with high-pitched heenk or nasal kow-luk, kowk or whouk calls and feeding sessions with hu-hu-hur calls.
North American snow geese habitats treasure their twice-yearly travelers, especially the 75 Ross's and snow geese terminated and tossed in Cass County, Missouri, Feb. 17, 2018.

Northern portion of west central Missouri's Cass County is the site of an incident of dumping 75 dead geese, including Ross's geese; photo by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC): Missouri Dept. of Conservation @moconservation via Facebook post of Feb.20, 2018

Acknowledgment
My special thanks to:
Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.
Image credits:
snow goose (Anser caerulescens) takeoff at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, northern California; Nov. 16, 2009; photo by George Lamson: US Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (USFWS Headquarters), CC BY 2.0, via Flickr @ https://www.flickr.com/photos/usfwshq/6337872457/
Northern portion of west central Missouri's Cass County is the site of an incident of dumping 75 dead geese, including Ross's geese; photo by Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC): Missouri Dept. of Conservation @moconservation via Facebook post of Feb.20, 2018

For further information:
Bent, Arthur Cleveland. 1937. "In Memoriam: Frederic Hedge Kennard 1865-1937." The Auk, vol. 54, no. 3 (July 1937): 341-348. Lancaster PA: The American Ornithologists' Union.
Available via SORA (Searchable Ornithological Research Archive) @ https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/auk/v054n03/p0341-p0348a.pdf
Kennard, F.H. (Frederick Hedge). 1927. "The Specific Status of the Greater Snow Goose." Proceedings of the New England Zoölogical Club, vol. 9: 85-93.
Linnaeus, Carl. 1758. "10. Anas caerulescens." Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis, Tomus I, Editio Decima, Reformata: 124. Holmiae [Stockholm, Sweden]: Laurentii Salvii [Laurentius Salvius].
Available via Biodiversity Heritage Library @ https://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/727029
Peterson, Alan P., M.D. "Anser caerulescens (Linnaeus) 1758." Zoonomen: Zoological Nomenclature Resource > Birds of the World -- Current Valid Scientific Avian Names > Anseriformes > Anatidae > Anser.
Available @ http://www.zoonomen.net/avtax/anse.html
Vuilleumier, François, Editor-in-Chief. 2016. American Museum of Natural History Birds of North America. New York NY: DK Publishing.


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