Blue Goose

Here is a photo of a Blue Goose flying with a Snow Goose. The Blue Goose is generally considered a color phase of the Snow Goose, and there will be a certain number of Blue Goose in any flock of Snows. I tried to do some research this morning, using internet resources, to determine just what that ratio of Blue Goose to Snow Geese is in the overall population. Certainly based on my observations of Snow Geese in November (early in the migration) at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico, the Blue Goose still seems to be relatively rare. Going through my photos of geese in flight and on the water, there seems to be no more than 1 Blue for every 100 Snows. I found similar published ratios for California populations, but much higher ratios for nesting and Central Flyway birds. If you look at the hunting forums, for instance, the recommended ratio of Snows and Blue decoys is 3 to 1, based on a 3 to 2 observed population ratio…indicating that hunters, at least, expect 40% of the central flyway population to the Blues. I have never seen a flock with that high a concentration of Blues. To complicate matters, the ratio seems to vary based on where you are even in the same flyway, with Snow Geese tending to use the western routes and Blue Geese tending to favor the eastern routes. One thing most researchers agree on is that the ratio of Blue to Snow is increasing as the overall population of Snow Geese increases. There are now over 5 million adult, breeding, Snow Geese of both phases…up over 300% from the mid-70s. And that increase is despite efforts to control the population through increased hunting, and despite the loss of considerable breeding habitat. I found several researchers who believe that the Blue Goose is actually the dominant gene expression, while the white Snow Goose is the expression of the recessive color, requiring recessive genes from both parents. The only thing certain, when it comes to Blue and Snow Geese numbers, appears to be that nothing is certain…at least not yet. At any rate, I am still delighted whenever I catch a Blue Goose in flight with the Snows. Whatever the truth is, I still consider the Blue Goose rare. Sony RX10iv at 600mm. Program mode with my special Birds in Flight modifications. 1/1000th @ f5.6 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and TouchRetouch (to remove a Snow Goose behind and overlapping the Blue).

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