Ever wished you could tell gander from goose upon hatching? You need to add Pilgrim Geese to your flock!
The history of the Pilgrim Goose is a bit murky, due to the prevalence of little misinformation, or simple confusion. Because of the name, some people assumed that Pilgrim Geese arrived in North America along with the pilgrims. That is not the case.
Pilgrim Geese are auto-sexing geese. "Auto-sexing" means that males and females are distinguishable, by color, upon hatching. Pilgrim ganders (males) are yellow and light gray with light-colored bills when they hatch, while Pilgrim geese (females) are a darker gray and have darker bills. As adults, ganders are white and sometimes have a bit of gray on the wings or rump, and females are gray and often have white on their faces.
While Pilgrims are the only available breed of auto-sexing geese available today in the US, they are not the only auto-sexing breed of geese to ever exist. There are references to auto-sexing geese in England and France in the 1800s, and the modern Pilgrim may be related to those older, unnamed breeds.
Pilgrim Geese were developed by Oscar Grow in the early 1900s in Iowa. He was a waterfowl expert, so had the means and knowledge to develop a breed. His wife is said to have given Pilgrims their name to honor the family's "pilgrimage" from Iowa to Missouri during the Great Depression.
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