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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cackling Goose at the Centre Furnace Duck Pond

A Cackling Goose was spotted by Drew Weber today at the Centre Furnace Duck Pond.

I arrived at the Duck Pond early this morning for my usual check to see if anything dropped out of the sky last night. Drew was already present and seemed somewhat animated. I figured he found the Northern Pintail that was rumored to be present. Turns out he found something much better. A Cackling Goose!

There were about 120 or so geese present this morning. Most, including the putative Cackler, were sleeping with their necks curled back and tucked. There was also a considerable amount of fog overhanging the pond, obscuring the view. I spent about 30 minutes observing the goose in question. The goose was noticeably smaller that the other Canada Geese that were present. During that time he lifted his head 3 times, giving me a pretty good look at its stubby bill. That being said, I was not completely satisfied with the view.

I went back after work this afternoon with my spotting scope and digital camera to take some digiscope shots. By this time, the fog had lifted, the lighting was much better, and the geese were all awake and going about their business. I got some really good looks – and pics - of the goose.

Cackling Goose (back) was noticeably smaller than the Canada Geese (fore) - roughly about two-thirds the size. It was only slightly larger than the local Mallards. In addition, it has a short stubby bill. Based on some rough measurement on the photos, the length of the bill was about 50% the length of the head.

The wings were held above the back in a slightly arched position and the primary feathers extend beyond the tail, as shown on the top photo and the photo below.

Based on these observations, I am fairly well convinced it is a Cacking Goose.

If you look up the Cackler in the Sibley Guide, you may be confused. Sibley shows the Cackling Goose with a much smaller bill and a darker breast. However, it should be pointed out that Sibley was published in 2000, when Cackling Goose was considered a sub-species of Canada Goose. In 2004, the Canada Goose was split by the AOU. Although the Sibley Guide shows 6 sub-species of Canada Goose, there were 11. The seven larger sub-species were grouped together as "Canada Goose", and the four smaller sub-species (Cackling, Richardsons, Aleutian & Taverner's) were grouped under the name "Cackling Goose".

Long story short...the Cackling Goose at the Duck Pond is most likely a Richardson's Cackler, rather than a Cackling Cackler.

1 comment:

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