Emperor Goose (Chen canagica)
The Emperor Goose (Chen canagica) is a beautiful bird species that can be found in Alaska as well as certain areas in Russia. Whilst it breeds in Alaska and Russia, the geese spend winter in the Aleutian Islands and occasionally a few end up on the Pacific Coast. When in the area, you certainly will want to keep your eyes peeled for these fine birds.
The Emperor Goose is about 18 inches in length with a wing span of 43 inches. The body is gray and the feathers are tipped in black and white. The feet and legs are distinctively orange. Adult Emperor Geese have a notable white head and nape with a black throat and pink bill. The black throat of the Emperor Goose distinguishes it from the Blue Goose. Oftentimes the neck and head will be stained a rust color from the iron of the tundra waters.
Nest sites are chosen by the female Emperor Goose just before she is ready to lay an egg. The nest is carefully lined with dead vegetation and down feathers later added in. The male Emperor Goose keeps a watch on the nest and female, chasing other males off from the nest area. The brave males will even attack predators or distract their attention from the nest. Clutch size for Emporer Geese ranges from 3 to 8 eggs. Incubation by the female lasts 23 to 27 days. Young ones leave the nest in about 50 to 60 days. In the breeding season, Emperor Geese will feed on plant matter. In winter their diet changes to mostly marine vegetation and invertebrates.
As the population of Emperor Geese is reduced and their range is limited, this bird species is vulnerable to a number of threats, including oil spills. Their lower numbers could also be due to subsistence hunting. A number of conservation management guidelines have been created for the preservation of the species. One such guideline states that, should the population drop below 60,000 for a period of 3 years, all hunting must be halted. Large sections of breeding sites are under the protection of the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. Winter habitats are under guard by the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. If you are interested in assisting in maintaining populations of Emperor Geese, there are a number of conservation initiatives which you can support.