The Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) is a migratory goose native to North America. These geese have two plumage color phases, the “white” phase and the “blue” phase. Both phases feature pink bills and feet. White phase snow geese have all white feathers except for black wingtips that are visible during flight. Snow Geese in blue phase coloration have darker bodies and white heads. The coloration of a goose is determined by genetics, and will remain that morph type for its life. For more information on Snow Goose coloration, and other bird morphs, check out this article.
While wild Snow Geese are rare sights at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary, there was a special goose that resided at the Sanctuary for a few months after being released from wildlife rehabilitation.
A malnourished Snow Goose was found on someone’s property in mid-Michigan, unable to fly in the fall of 2022. It was presumed that the bird was in the middle of its migratory path when it could not continue due to fatigue. The goose was first brought to a wildlife rehabilitator in Grand Rapids then transferred to another rehab center in Eaton County, all the while regaining its strength. The snow goose was brought to the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary on April 19th. From April to June, it was spotted on Wintergreen Lake’s shorelines. Staff offered waterfowl feed to help supplement the bird’s diet, and enjoyed its gruffy honks. At some point, this cute bird was named “Snoose”. With time, this snow goose was spotted flying with other geese across the lake.
Wildlife rehabbers are animal enthusiasts and often volunteers who offer their time and resources to support injured animals. Proper licensing and permitting is required for these rehab centers to handle and care for injured wildlife. An animal can remain in rehab until its injuries have healed. The Kellogg Bird Sanctuary does not rehabilitate injured animals; however, it may offer a permanent home for some non-releasable birds or act as a safe release spot for select individuals like this Snow Goose. If you have found an injured animal, please refer to the Michigan DNR’s list of rehabilitators.
“Snoose” left the sanctuary sometime in early June 2023. This story is just one example of successful wildlife rehabilitation and a safe release at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. The Sanctuary has been an important “stopover site”, or areas of habitat where migratory birds stop to refuel with food and rest during their long journeys, since establishment in 1927.
Good luck, Snoose!
Ashley Leckrone is a senior at Michigan State University studying Fisheries and Wildlife. She was the avian care intern for summer 2023 at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary. Her mentors were Brenden Kokx and Lisa Duke.