Wednesday, April 4, 2018

A Canada Goose that wasn't really Canadian

The snow geese are making fewer appearances in Richmond these days, so I didn't expect to see them when I tried to appease my son to look for them in Terra Nova.

At first, we saw them in a vacant field fenced off from the public, and I thought that would be our best view of them.  The geese then started swarming a more luxurious patch of grass.

This is one of the wealthier areas of Richmond; the dense lawn these geese are fertilizing is cropped short, golf-course style.  Their visit to this patch must be rare - residents were outside on their balconies, snapping videos.

Then we saw this bird, not like the others:

"Canada Goose", I confidently educated my son.  He repeated after me.  We followed behind it to get a better look, as it not only seemed out of place, but to my eye unusually smaller than a typical Canada Goose.  The neck seemed scrawny compared to its white companions.

Later, upon Googling, I realized it might not even be a Canada Goose.  I had no idea there was such a thing as a Cackling Goose, nor did most of the birding world before 2004, when it became officially recognized as a separate species from the Canada Goose.  The Cackling Goose has a smaller body and shorter neck are the more obvious differences from the Canada Goose, as is a steeper head and shorter beak if you should get close enough to see.

They nest in the tundra, which might explain why it's flocked with the snow geese.  Lucky for us, since we never would've given it a second look had it flocked with Canada Geese.

1 comment:

Bella Sinclair said...

Wow, you have a great eye. Nice catch on the Cackling Goose! With a name like that, I want to hear it cackle now.