Superficially similar to the larger Canada Goose, with brownish body, black head and neck, and white cheek patches. Cackling Goose is smaller overall, with proportionally shorter neck, a much shorter, steep-sloped bill, and proportionally longer wings. Often exhibits a white ring at the base of neck. There are four recognized subspecies, which show a wide range or plumage variation;
Cackling Cackling Goose (B.h. minima) is the smallest, darkest and most patterned of the four subspecies. They have comparatively short necks, a more round head and a stubby bill. On adults, the breast is dark, glossy and often shows a purplish sheen. Their back and covert feathers have pale pearl gray edges that give them a "frosted" look. They are highly variable when it comes to the amount of white they have at the base of the neck sock. Some birds show broad white collars that completely encircle the base of the neck. Some show a partial collar just in the front and many show no white on the neck at all. If there is no white ring, there is little contrast between the dark purplish brown breast and the black neck. Younger birds tend to be less glossy and purplish on the breast and their heads and necks have a brownish cast; they usually show no white neck collar during their first winter.
Aleutian Cackling Goose (B.h. leucopareia) are highly variable in appearance. They are slightly larger and longer-legged then B. h. minima, with a medium brown breast. On nearly all birds, the black neck is separated from the breast by a conspicuous broad white neck band that is broadest on the foreneck and nearly encircles the entire neck. They typically show a pronounced forehead (due to enlarged salt gland) that accentuates this subspecies' square-headed, short-billed look.
Richardson’s Cackling Goose (B.h. hutchinsii) is generally the only Cackling Goose found east of the Rocky Mtns. They show sharp contrast between the black neck and pale silvery breast, a square head, and proportionally longer bill.
Taverner’s Cackling Goose (B.h. taverneri) is the largest of the four subspecies, overlapping on size with the Lesser Canada Goose. Taverner’s show no glossiness and they lack the frosted looking upperparts. In mixed flocks, these features allows them to be separated from B. h. minima. When seen in the company of Lesser Canada Goose, they exhibit shorter, thicker necks, square heads, and a slightly shorter bills. They also lack the slight droop to the bill tip that is usually shown by Lesser Canadas. Breast color varies, but there is usually strong contrast between the neck and breast.
Length: 56 (cm) Wingspan: 109 (cm)
A raucous honking. Smallest race cackles.
Nests on tundra. Winters on agricultural fields, wetlands, coastal estuaries.
On wintering grounds, often forms tightly-bunched flocks of several hundred to several thousand birds. Aleutian race migrates over open ocean.
Vegetarian. Eats grasses and sedges, aquatic plants, berries, grain.
Russian fur traders of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, thinking ahead (sort of) deposited nonnative Arctic Foxes on nearly every one of the Aleutians on which the birds of that form nest. The result was that, by the 1960s, these geese were reduced to a few hundred--which had lived on a couple of islands the fur traders hadn't dumped foxes on! Through the tedious work of island-by-island fox removal and a closed season (until a couple years ago), the recovery program has now brought them back to around 100,000 and the subpecies is no longer considered Endangered. Further growth of the population may well be limited simply by full occupation of the islands they nest on.
Citation: Personal Experience. I observe this regularly, highly confident.
Expanded Life History
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|Activity||Date & Time|
|Dave Irons added Cackling Goose to their Bellevue Area smart list||12/08/2012 at 10:43AM|
|Keith K. added Cackling Goose to their Sauvie Island smart list||2/26/2012 at 9:41PM|
|Grant Canterbury added Cackling Goose to their Rentenaar Road smart list||12/19/2011 at 5:24PM|
|Jacob Parks added Cackling Goose to their Smith and Bybee Lakes smart list||11/02/2011 at 1:46AM|
|dawn villaescusa added Cackling Goose to their Yaquina Bay, HMSC smart list||10/16/2011 at 7:53PM|
|dawn villaescusa added Cackling Goose to their Boiler Bay, OR smart list||10/16/2011 at 7:52PM|
|David Fix added a note to Cackling Goose Notes||7/02/2011 at 11:29PM|