Duckology with Dr. Frank — Snow Goose Color

Duckology with Dr. Frank — Snow Goose Color

Dr. Frank Rohwer explains color variations in snow geese.



  1. Marc opulencia May 22, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks Dr Frank, out west we have the Tule goose and the specks. Are they the same? Or is the tule a sperate species? Would love your thoughts on this issue.

    • Frank Rohwer May 23, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply


      Tule Geese are one of the two “recognized subspecies” of Greater White-fronted Geese that occur in North America (Pacifics are the other subspecies). There are 4 subspecies recognized worldwide, but only two occur here in North America. The other two are old world. White-fronts are circumpolar in distribution – more so than any other goose.

      Our Pacific White-fronted Geese are split into two populations that are both quite large. One is western and largely breeds on the Yukon-Kuskokwim river Deltas (Alaska) and winters in the Pacific Flyway (mostly CA). But the other population breeds in northern Canada and these geese go to Central and Miss. Flyways.

      The Tule Geese (Anser albifrons elgasi) are a small population that breeds on the Cook Inlet (near Redoubt Bay and Susitna Flats) in Alaska and winter in the Central Valley of CA. That population is very small, so it presents all sorts of management problems given the abundance of Pacific White-fronts (Anser albifrons frontalis).

      Tules are bigger by about 10% and more brown, but those differences are pretty subtle if you ask me. The Tule population has declined a great deal due to habitat changes caused by the eruption of the Redoubt Volcano in 1989. Got to admit that all this science is the work of others. I’ve never seen a Tule in winter nor any white-fronts during nesting. It is on my bucket list.

      Hope this helps,


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