Friday, June 1, 2018

Cackling Goose

The Cackling Goose is rather rare in the San Diego region. There are many forms, but the expected form is the Aleutian Cackling Goose (Branta hutchensii leucopareia). A few are sometimes mixed in with flocks of the much larger Canada Goose, from which these smaller birds were split as a separate species in 2004. The Ramona Grassland Preserve or, rather, the nearby cattle pastures are a good place to look.

The Aleutian Cackling Goose below was found grazing with coots in a small park on the edge of the San Diego Bay, in Chula Vista, on February 18, 2018.

Aleutian Cackling Goose
Aleutian Cackling Goose
Another form that may be found in winter is the Ridgway's Cackling Goose. It has a dark purplish-brown breast.

The Ridgway's Cackling Goose (B.h. minima) is 25 inches long, bill to tail, the size of a tame Mallard. The Aleutian Cackling Goose is an inch or two longer. The Canada Goose flocks here are Western Canada Goose (B. canadensis moffitti) with a length of 45 inches--quite the difference!

For a primer on separating Cackling and Canada Goose see this blog post.