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Old Dec 31, 2008, 3:00 PM   #1
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When I was out shooting at the refuge yesterday I got several pictures of a Blue Morph Snow Goose. When I went in the visitor center to sign the registry I got to talking with one of the refuge staff and learned something new.
Previously, this Blue variety of Snow Goose was referred to as a Blue Phase, which implied that it was a stage of development that the goose moved through. This is now known not to be the case. It is a permanent coloration that is now referred to as a Blue Morph. At any rate it is a fairly rare condition affecting only a small fraction of Snow Geese and Ross's Geese. The Ross strain is so rare (here at least) that the refuge person I was talking to had only seen one in her entire career (20 plus years) at this refuge.
I thought is was interesting and I always try to learn something new each day. So, after learning this, I was done for the day. :lol:

P.S. I did post a couple of pictures of another Blue Morph Snow goose in another recent posting. The title is "Young (incorrect) Blue phase Snow Goose" I made this posting before my enlightenment.


Steve
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Last edited by smac; Feb 2, 2014 at 2:14 PM.
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 3:37 PM   #2
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Actually, the "Blue Goose" used to be considered a separate species, breeding only around the Hudson's Bay region of Canada and wintering directly south to the Gulf of Mexico. Blue Geese are abundant and uncommon only to the east and west of this area. Geese normally mate for life, migrating as family groups. Hunting has broken up many of these groups, and pairing or re-pairing occurring on the wintering grounds has resulted in some mixed Blue/Snow pairs (whose interbreeding proved they were one species); since males follow females to their birth areas, the blue morphs have spread to areas previously occupied only by Snow Geese. This bird (above) has some white feathers among the blue ones, possibly indicating that there might have been such a cross somewhere in its background. Your other blue morph (below) has a head pattern not typical of the blue Snow morph which usually has an extensively white head and neck (that head pattern is seen in the rare blue morph of Ross' Goose, and in the Barnacle Goose), and is an extreme in variation in the Blue. Rightly or wrongly, the terms "morph" and "phase" are often used interchangeably, and do not necessarily relate to age - Little Blue Herons and Reddish Egrets begin life white and change (some Reddish Egrets remain white), but I don't know where that idea came from in regard to the geese, in which it never happens.
http://scienceguy.smugmug.com/photos...93_g2ovf-L.jpg
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Old Dec 31, 2008, 7:00 PM   #3
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Penolta,
Thanks again for your insights. The head pattern on the linked Blue goose looked exactly like the display Blue Morph Ross in the visitor center. I noticed the difference immediately and went back to check my picture because I thought I might have captured a picture of the Ross. The black grin patch let me know it was a Snow and not a Ross.
I appreciate you sharing your knowledge with the rest of us.

Thanks and Happy New Year,
Steve
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