Saturday, September 12, 2020

Cackling Goose

The cackling goose was originally considered a subspecies of the Canada goose, but in 2004 the American Ornithologist Union split the Canada goose and the cackling goose into two separate species, and the cackling goose, in turn, now has five subspecies: Richardson's cackling goose; Aleutian cackling goose; Small cackling goose; Taverner's cackling goose; and Bering cackling goose. 
These flying cackling geese have the white "U" on their rumps.
The cackling goose is native to North America. It breeds in northern Canada and Alaska and winters in western Canada, most of the U.S. and northern Mexico. 
Single file in Tule Lake NWR.
The head and neck are black and have a large white cheek patch. Some have a thin white necklace. They have shorter necks than Canada geese, smaller bills, and a steep forehead. The head shape is variable with some having a flat head. In flight it shows a white "U" on the upper tail. 
The one to the left has a flatter head and both have steep foreheads. 
We were recently in Lower Klamath NWR and Tule Lake NWR, which are right next to each other in northeastern California. They are staging areas for migrating cackling geese and I was hoping to see one. I have had struggles in the past distinguishing between subspecies of Canada goose and cackling goose, but I think I've got this one right.  

1 comment:

  1. It would be interesting to see photos of the subspecies side-by-side. Please write a post doing that eventually.