Monday, August 23, 2010

A Cackling Goose...or Not?

During my latest trip to the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island, British Columbia, I spotted what I believed to be a pair of Cackling Geese. Unfortunately, when I arrived home and attempted to upload my observations to Ebird, my "Cackling Goose" sighting was questioned. To follow are a few images of the goose, along with a few of the Canada, for comparison. It should be noted that I heard the "voice" of what I believed was the Cackling and it was remarkably different than that of the Canada...

Above three images are of the goose in question ~ a Cackling Goose?

The above three images are of the much larger [and more aggressive] Canada Goose.

According to articles I have read on the Cackling Goose, their range is only as far north as Oregon. While looking for more material on the goose, I found this excellent article on
"Distinguishing Cackling and Canada Goose" from "Sibley Guides".

What do you think? Are the geese in question really Cackling?


  1. Kimberly, I think they are Cackling. I saw them and also took their photos. I thought they may have been Lesser Canada Geese, but their necks weren't long enough. I also looked at range. All my books show them as through this area on migration. Even Sibly's shows the ring around the base of the neck that the regular Canada's don't have. So, I think they are Cacklers!
    Nice shots by the way!

  2. With the research I have done since we saw the pair leads me to believe they are in fact Cackling Geese. I have no doubt in my mind that is what they are!

  3. I agree that they are indeed Cackling Geese. No question in my mind. We have them here in NM in winter.

  4. Cackling geese for sure in my view. Not surprised you were challenged via ebird. The BirdChat listserv has had some recent posts about accuracy and skepticism based on reported sightings that some believe are flawed.

  5. I would have to say a Cackling Goose. And because their range is only to Oregon doesn't mean they won't show up in B.C.. We had 2 here in Maine last year and their range is no where near our state.

    Great record and comparison photos Kimberley!

  6. Look good for Cackling Geese to me too.

  7. Kim, the Cackling Goose isn't so rare any longer, from what I've read. National Geographic Field Guide says that it "winters primarily in California's Central Valley; it has increased greatly in recent decades."

    Range map shows it smack in your area as well as coasts of WA, OR and Northern CA.

  8. Your photos are of Cackling Geese. eBird wasn't "questioning" your sighting, but the automatic filter caught the entry, probably on the basis of the date--August is earlyish. Whoever the eBird editor is for the area (who is it, anyhow?) will drop you a line asking for a detail or two, and will then "confirm" the entry (it's a poor choice of words) on reading your notes or looking at your photos. Nice birds, and I hope they stick around long enough for me to see them next week!

  9. Thank y'all for your kind comments. I really appreciate it.

    Rick, the eBird editor for BC is Dick Cannings, I found out. He wrote me a very nice, detailed email message explaining the process of "confirming" a notable sighting, like this one. For some reason, however, he didn't ask me to support my claim with documentation. He simply "confirmed" the sighting - 4 days after I submitted it.

    As an avid iPhone BirdsEye user, it's important to me to know that "notable" and "rare" sightings are "confirmed" [within a reasonable time frame] so that I stand an improved chance of getting the bird, myself. Personally, I wouldn't make a trip out somewhere for an "unconfirmed" sighting. Would you?

    Anyway, it's all good. I learned how the process works and received confirmation that this lovely bird is a Cackling Goose :)

    I'm happy!