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What Colors Can Geese Be? (Are There White Geese?)

The vast majority of geese come in combinations of four main colors; black, grey, brown, and white. This is because they have adapted their coloring to blend in with their surroundings to avoid predators.

A line of geese standing by a pond
Geese come in many variations of black, grey, brown, and white.

As it turns out, what they eat also has a large effect on the color of their feathers.

In this article we’ll look at some of the common colors of geese, go over some examples of unusually colored geese, and learn about why geese are the colors they are.

Most Common Colors of Geese

There are six main species of goose in North America; the White-fronted goose, Ross’s goose, Snow goose, Brant goose, Black Brant, and of course, the Canada goose. All these species are combinations of black, white, brown, and grey in color.

Geese are usually less colorful than ducks. Wild geese tend to range in color from grey to white whereas ducks can be found in brown, orange, green, and even purple.

One notable exception to the standard goose colors is the Emperor Goose (Anser canagicus).

Though their bodies are grey, interspersed with some white and black tinges, their head and neck are orange or red, due to the high levels of iron oxide present in the tidal pools from which they feed.

What Colors can Geese Be?

Common species of geese are nearly always either grey, white, or brown (or a combination of these colors).

Here are some of the most common breeds of geese and their colors and markings…

SpeciesColor
Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens)White all over
Ross Goose (Chen rossii)White with black tail
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)Grey and brown with a black head
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)Black with white underbody and head
Emperor Goose (Anser canagicus)Greyish black with a naturally orange dyed head and neck
Brant Goose (Branta bernicla) Black head and neck with varying underbelly color
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) Black neck, white chin, with grey or chocolate brown body
Two barnacle geese
Barnacle geese are almost completely black to help them blend with the sea cliffs where they nest

Why Are Geese Different Colors?

Goose coloring is a product of evolution, with different species adapting their colors to blend in with the environments where they breed.

For example, Snow Geese (also known as Arctic Geese) are white all over, to match the snow-covered arctic tundras where they nest.

Barnacle geese, who nest in high, rocky cliffs have evolved a darker color, with black and brown feathers.

It’s possible to find multiple different colors of the same goose species, since different groups of geese nest in different locations during winter. A group that nests further north may have whiter feathers than a group who nests further south where there is less snow.

Why Are There No Bright Colored Geese?

Geese are not as brightly colored as parrots or other tropical birds since they have adapted their coloring to blend into their grey arctic surroundings, and a goose’s diet is low in carotene, which is responsible for producing bright colors in bird feathers.

Without carotene, which is present in some fruits, plants and algaes, a goose could never evolve to have brightly colored feathers.

What Colors are Geese Feet?

Though there isn’t much variation in the colors of plumage, geese can have some relatively colorful feet. Depending on the species, they can have either red, black, or orange feet.

During breeding season, the high volume of hormones flooding though their bodies can actually cause a reaction that will lighten the color of their feet. Then, during the summer, their feet will become a duller color again.

A goose standing on the pavement
Geese feet can be orange, black, or yellow depending on the species

FAQs

Are There White Geese?

There are several species of geese that are white all over, including the Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) and the Chinese Goose (Anser cygnoides). In addition, some species of geese have patches of white mixed in with their otherwise black, grey, or brown feathers.

Geese that spend a lot of time very far North have evolved white plumage to evade predators by blending into their surroundings. Of these, the most common is the Snow Goose.

Are There Black Geese?

There are a few species of geese that sport dark and black plumage, however, there are no fully black geese. The closest thing to a solid black goose is the Barnacle Goose, which is mostly black but with a white patch on their underbelly and a white head.

Barnacle geese nest in the high volcanic cliffs of Iceland, where the surrounding stone is very dark, thus their black plumage helps them blend in and avoid predators.

Conclusion

Most common geese are black, white, brown, grey, or a combination of these colors. This is because geese have evolved to blend with the grey surroundings of their arctic nesting and breeding grounds.

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