CackGoo414a.jpg (12719 bytes)Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii, in New York.

All pictures are Jay and Kevin McGowan.  They were taken with a variety of digital cameras through a Swarovski HD-80, ATS 80, or ATS 65 spotting scope.


East Road, Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co., NY.  12 October 2004.

Baldwinsville, Onondaga Co., NY.  26 September 2004.

Cayuga Lake, Seneca Co. 2 March 2002.

Cayuga Lake, Tompkins Co. 19 December 2000.



East Road, Montezuma NWR, Seneca Co., NY.  12 October 2004.

Discovered on 11 October 2004 by Bob McGuire, these small geese were photographed by Jay on 12 October.  They were far back in one of the impoundments, and they kept facing away, so the images of their coloring is not very good.  The birds, however, were clearly light-chested and much smaller than the Canada Geese.

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Baldwinsville, Onondaga Co., NY.  26 September 2004.

Discovered on 23 September 2004 by Joe Brin in the Town of Van Buren's Central Park south of Baldwinsville, NY (KB Region 5, Onondaga Co.).  This small version of Canada Goose was hanging out in the company of about 800 large Canada's on 26 September 04 when Jay and I found it.  It was quite smaller than the large geese, and slightly darker as well. 

So which "Cackling Goose" is it?  It seems too dark for a Richardson's (B. h. hutchinsii), but not dark enough for a true Cackling (B. h. minima).  I did not think the bill looked small enough for minima either, but I don't have all that much experience with them (in zoos and photographs, mostly).  We observed the geese on a bright sunny day, and it did not look nearly so dark (nor so tiny) as we had expected by looking at the photographs on Matt Victoria's web page.  It certainly looks tiny in the photo in the title section (above), but not nearly so small in the photographs below.


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It had a short, but not tiny bill, and was much, much smaller than all of the other geese present.  I was of the impression that the other geese were of the subspecies B. canadensis maxima, the Giant Canada Goose, and B. c. interior, the Interior Canada Goose.  Certainly a range of sizes was apparent, although none approached the little guy. 

We noticed that the area directly under the black neck sock of the Cackling Goose was distinctly darker than the rest of the chest.  This darkness is only apparent in some of our photos.


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When facing directly into the sunlight, the chest of the Cackling Goose was not extremely different from that of the Canadas.  In fact, some variability was noticeable amongst the Canadas, but none of them showed the distinct dark area below the neck of the Cackling. In all of the Canadas, the upper chest was the palest part of the chest, not the darkest.


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The dark region below the neck can be seen in this photo.




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In bright light, and especially as shown in this overexposed image, the bird did not look very dark.  But, it was still slightly darker than the Canadas.


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The white chin patch showed only a thin, incomplete black line underneath.  Most of the large Canadas present had pure white chins, but about 1/10th had anything from a complete thin line to a rather large black patch below the chin.

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These last two photographs make the bird look much darker than the others.  It did not look this dark to me in life.



Cayuga Lake, Seneca Co. 2 March 2002.

We noticed two small Canada Geese in with a massive Snow Goose flock on the west side of Cayuga Lake, offshore of Seneca Co. (along with one Ross's Goose and one Ross's X Snow Goose hybrid).

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The above photos were of the same bird.  The bird below was the second.

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Cayuga Lake, Tompkins Co. 19 December 2000.

These two little geese were offshore of Stewart Park in Ithaca, with thousands of large Canada Geese.

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Revised: April 06, 2005.