The snow goose comes with different plumage colorations, known as morphs or shapes. In general, the most common form is snow-white body plumage. So, there are many snow geese with dark blue-gray bodies. Ornithologists once believed that these birds belonged to a different species called the Blue Goose. But these birds are now known as the dark or blue form of the snow goose and TURKEY DECOYS. The white and blue forms breed easily together, and chicks from a single clutch can be white or blue, much like humans have brown or blue eyes. In an intriguing twist, the snow goose retains the scientific name of the ancient blue goose, caerulescens, which explains why this often white bird is labeled differently in its species name.

Other species with distinct morphologies include the eastern barn owl, the reddish egret, a number of falcons (including, rarely, the broad-winged) and, very rarely, the similar but smaller Ross’s goose. Although not always the case, there may be a regional aspect to the distribution of color transformations. It is certainly true of the snow goose: “blue” geese nest primarily in the center of the species’ breeding field, with most wintering in the central U.S. states, and are the majority of birds that spend the winter along the Gulf Coast.

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