- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The beautiful Emperor Goose is a small, scarce goose of Alaska. It’s intricately patterned in blue-gray and black, set off by a regal white crown and bright-orange legs. Emperor Geese are birds of rocky beaches and brackish wetlands, where they feed on mussels, barnacles, eelgrass, and sea lettuce. Most of the population nests in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, with some nesting in eastern Russia. Their numbers seem to be recovering from a low in the late 20th century, but Emperor Geese remain on the Yellow Watch List.More ID Info
Find This Bird
To be sure of seeing Emperor Geese you’ll need to go to Alaska. Look for them in winter and early spring (April) on Kodiak Island, or visit Nome and explore east of the city, where they gather in large flocks of geese in Safety Sound in May. Gambell, on St. Lawrence Island, is a good place to watch for migrants flying by.
- Ánsar Emperador (Spanish)
- Oie empereur (French)
- Cool Facts
- The name Emperor Goose derives from the adult’s white crown and hindneck, which appeared to early explorers like the ermine trim on a royal cloak.
- In Alaska some people refer to Emperor Goose as the “beach goose” because of its year-round preference for coastal environments, where it mostly roosts on beaches when not foraging. An older common name for the species is “painted goose,” referring to its beautiful plumage.
- In summer, Emperor Geese feed in tidal pools that are rich in iron oxide. This often stains the normally white head an intense red-brown color.
- Emperor Geese fly lower than many other geese that nest in the arctic, usually below 90 feet in the air and often just above the ground. However, they fly higher when hunters are around.
- The oldest recorded Emperor Goose was a female at least 20 years, 3 months old when she was found in Alaska in 2013. She had been banded in 1994.