Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.
 

Cackling Geese, Canada Geese, and Colorado's Christmas Bird Counts

Expand Messages
  • Nick Komar
    As we gear up for the Christmas Bird Count season a few weeks from now, many birders will be sharpening their winter birding skills, especially this week as
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 25, 2010
      As we gear up for the Christmas Bird Count season a few weeks from now, many birders will be sharpening their winter birding skills, especially this week as folks have some time off from work and studies. Connie Kogler’s post yesterday reminded me that each year during the CBCs, I run into bird counters who have not yet mastered the intricacies of separating Canada Geese from Cackling Geese. Several years ago, the American Ornithologists’ Union threw a wrench into counting Canada Geese when they announced that 4 of 10 subspecies of the familiar “white-cheeked” geese are now grouped into a separate species call Cackling Goose, a fact still not represented in the majority of Bird ID field guides currently in use by birders. So, I urge all Colorado birders, as they observe birds over the Thanksgiving break, and in the weeks leading up to the Christmas Bird Counts, to look closely at the myriads of “white-cheeked” geese that now inhabit our parks, lawns, fields, and lakes. The majority of these have just arrived from their high-north breeding grounds – the small “Richardson’s” Cackling Goose, and the large “Interior” Canada Goose. Beware of smaller “Lesser” Canada Goose, approaching the Cackling Goose in size, especially in the eastern plains. A minority of all these geese will be the largest “Greater/Moffit’s” Canada Goose, our local resident. Upon close inspection, in addition to size differences, you will notice differences in shape (the Cackling Goose has smaller, shorter bills compared with Canada Goose) and behavioral differences (Cackling Goose are often in large, tight flocks that spend more time in water compared with the more terrestrial Canada Goose). The Sibley Guide website has some good information on field identification of Cackling and Canada Geese (http://www.sibleyguides.com/). As Connie indicated in her post, North Lake Park at the northwest corner of Lake Loveland in downtown Loveland (Larimer County) is a great location to study 3 or 4 goose types up close, especially near the duck-feeding area. Most importantly, CBCers can no longer glance at a flock of distant “white-cheeked” geese and jot down X number of Canada Geese. They could just as well be Cackling Geese, or a mixed flock of both species! These indeterminate birds should be counted as “white-cheeked geese” or more correctly for the CBC database, as “Canada/Cackling Goose”. Better yet, take the time to familiarize yourself with these two goose categories now, and then during the CBCs, take the time to observe these geese as carefully as possible to get good estimates of the numbers of each species in your CBC territories. In some Colorado CBC circles, Cackling Goose outnumbers Canada Goose.
       
      Nick Komar
      Fort Collins CO
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.