Monday, December 22, 2008

"They're all the same, all you can eat is the breast,"

Said my father-in-law when I told him my theory that at least 5 different forms of white-cheeked geese occur in Berrien.  I think that puts it into perspective.

Due to Christmas preparations, a boring CBC, and serial blizzards, I haven't gotten out as much as I'd like so I've decided to produce (drumroll please) yet another goose post!

These are birds photographed when Tim and I tried our big day back in early December.  How many different forms do you see?
The 2 birds in the foreground are obviously Canadas, given that there were about 200 of them, they're probably the migratory interior race.  The 2 birds in the rear on the left appear to be Richardson's hutchinsii cacklers.  They're small, the left-most bird definitely has more prominent edging to the scapulars, and  both have a quite vertical forehead.  The right-most of these 5 birds was giving me problems.  The next picture shows it on the left with one of the cacklers having walked down behind it now on the right.
It definitely seemed to have a much more sloping face and seemed to be a slightly different color brown than the others.  It seemed to be just bigger than the cacklers though definitely closer to them than the Canadas.  Unfortunately I didn't do a good job of documenting its scapular pattern, but my impression in the field was that there wasn't much contrast (though the 2nd cackler had less contrast than the brighter of the cacklings as well).  I'm not sure if this bird is a cackling goose or if this could be a parvipes type lesser Canada goose 

Finally my best photo of the brighter of the 2 cacklings, showing the head shape and the scapulars fairly well.  Perhaps I should have worked on better pics of the duller one.
A note on the photos, they were taken on a bright sunlit day and my camera somewhat under-exposed them so the brightness and contrast have been increased on pics 1 and 3.  They're also shot through a chain-link fence which doesn't help matters.

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