Nature Talk: Ross’s Goose spotted in Minneapolis

I had only seen a Ross’s Goose one time before this week and that was two and a half years ago at the Coon Rapids Dam.

Ross’s Goose spotted in Bassett Creek in Theodore Wirth Park near the golf course. Photo by Ron Taube
Ross’s Goose spotted in Bassett Creek in Theodore Wirth Park near the golf course. Photo by Ron Taube

I was hiking with the naturalist at the dam Gary Swanson at the time with some other birders and he saw it fly by and land on Cenaiko Lake with some Cackling Geese and Canada Geese.

He got very excited as did I and we carefully ran from the south  side of the lake to the north side where the geese were swimming, trying not to scare them off.

A Ross’s Goose is smaller than the Canada Goose and even a little smaller than the Cackling Goose. It looks much like a Snow Goose but is smaller than that as well.

In fact the Ross’s Goose is about the size of a Mallard, it is all white except for its triangle shaped beak which is pinkish and it’s black wing tips.

The Ross’s Goose lives in northern Canada throughout the breeding season mostly along Hudson’s Bay, but in other areas as well.

It migrates south through the Dakotas mostly and winters in Mexico, Texas and Louisiana. The goose was named after Bernard R. Ross, who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the Northwest Territories.

Several weeks ago on the M.O.U. rare bird website one was seen in Hopkins and I went out there twice searching the streets and ponds in hopes of seeing it, but I had no luck.

This past week a Ross’s Goose was seen along the Theodore Wirth Parkway near the golf course.

I really didn’t think that I’d have much of a chance of spotting it, but I had to give it one more try.

I parked near the golf course and hiked along a paved trail that ran parallel to Bassett Creek.

I didn’t see a goose of any kind on the creek and very few birds as I walked.

Finally I noticed a foot bridge and heard the honking of Canada Geese and got my hopes up.

As I approached the footbridge I saw maybe 50 Canada’s swimming up the channel and toward an open lake.

I looked with my binoculars and saw something white in among the Canada’s.

A moment later I confirmed a white goose in the bunch. I wanted a decent photo so I walked slowly and behind some cattails to block the bird’s view of me, until I was able to spot the Ross’s between the reeds and take some photos.

Later after I posted a couple of  photos online I found someone commented that the bird was in fact a hybrid of a Ross’s and a Snow Goose.

So it turned out that it wasn’t a wild goose chase at all. Well it is a wild goose.

My Ross’s photos and others can be seen at my flickr page. Here is the link

Editor’s note: Ron Taube is a member of the Coon Rapids Senior Center Creative Writers Club.

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