Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Ross's Goose - Anser rossii
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General Comments The Ross's Goose is a somewhat regular winter visitor/resident, in very small numbers, amid large flocks of Snow Geese near the coast. Also, the species has an unusual proclivity of turning up far inland with very small numbers of other geese, often at small ponds and other unlikely places for a rare goose. Records of this winter visitor have been greatly increasing in the 2000's, both near the coast and inland, probably owing to a range-wide population increase, but also helped by more vigilant study of large flocks of Snow Geese.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S1N
Global Rank G4
Coastal Plain Winter visitor/resident. Rare (to locally uncommon) but increasing winter visitor, and a winter resident (i.e., regular at sites) in the northeastern portion of the province, south to Pea Island, Lake Mattamuskeet, Pungo refuge, and central Washington; late Oct through late Feb. Casual south of Dare and Hyde, with only five records: Beaufort (Carteret), 17-23 Dec 1999; Southport (Brunswick), 5-12 Jan 2002; Veterans Park (New Hanover), 15-19 Dec 2014; Ocean Isle Beach (Brunswick), 24 Nov 2015; and Veterans Park, 15-18 Jan 2017. Away from the tidewater area, there are but three records: one at Garysburg (Northampton), 27 Dec 2001; one at River Park North in Greenville (Pitt), 27 Dec 2013 - 2 Jan 2014; and one in Cumberland on 19 Dec 2013. Peak counts: 21 at Pungo refuge on 11 Jan 2015; 17 at that refuge on 19 Jan 2014; 11 at that refuge on 24 Jan 2013; 11 at that refuge on 26 Jan 2014.
Piedmont Winter visitor. Formerly casual; now very rare to rare but greatly increasing, with about 36 records, scattered across most of the province. Extreme dates -- 21 Oct to 21 Mar, plus one lingering to 1 May, and an out of season record on 3 Jun (2005). Peak counts: 5, eastern Alexander, 6 Dec 2015; 4, Mid-Pines Road south of Raleigh (Wake), 1 Jan 2017; 4, along Shopton Road (Mecklenburg), 30 Nov - 3 Dec 2017; 3, Southern Lake Norman CBC, 19 Dec 2010.
Mountains Winter visitor. Very rare to now rare (2017), but greatly increasing, in the southern counties, with about 34 records. All are from the southern counties, except for two records in Watauga. Dates range between 12 Nov and 2 Apr, plus a very late bird in Watauga from 30 Apr - 10 May 2014. Peak count: 5, Mills River Wastewater Treatment Plant (Henderson), 9 Nov 2017; 4, at a wastewater treatment plant along NC 191 (Henderson), 4 Dec 2016; 3 in Henderson in Nov - Dec 2007.
Finding Tips In the past few winters, the species has been seen, generally with Snow Geese, in fields near Pungo Lake (especially along Pat's Road) and Phelps Lake, and at a pond/fields where US 64 meets Beasley Road (Washington). Over the last few decades, most were picked out of Snow Goose flocks along NC 12 at Pea Island. In any case, patience is the key to finding the species. Normally, you must be willing to examine hundreds to a thousand or more Snows to find a Ross's. Fortunately, Ross's is quite a bit smaller than a Snow Goose, and most tend to be immaculately white in plumage. The species is difficult to pick out when feeding in marsh grasses or resting on water. Farther inland, they turn up mainly at farm ponds and other small isolated lakes and ponds, and not at the larger lakes/reservoirs.
Attribution LeGrand[2018-06-09], LeGrand[2018-02-18], LeGrand[2018-02-01]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.