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Loess Bluffs NWR--Snow Goose Pool
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Anseriformes > Anatidae

Cackling Goose

Branta hutchinsii

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Identification

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A small, short-necked, stubby-billed goose. Size and shape are best identification clues; note more rounded head, shorter neck, and smaller bill on Cackling. Some are only slightly larger than Mallard. Usually very similar in plumage to Canada Goose, but some Cackling have a more prominent white neck collar. Often forms mixed flocks with other species of geese, grazing in fields or gathering in wetlands. Complex taxonomy includes four subspecies: Richardson’s, Taverner’s, minima, and Aleutian. Richardson’s is most common in central North America and regular in small numbers in the east; it can show a silvery cast to the upperparts and a narrow or diffuse white neck collar. Taverner’s is the largest Cackling subspecies and usually rather pale, very similar to Lesser (or parvipes) Canada Goose but averages stubbier-billed. Minima is smallest and darkest, usually with no neck collar. Well-named Aleutian breeds in the Aleutian Islands and winters along west coast of North America and Japan; it is typically rather dark overall with a bold white neck collar.

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Cackling Goose

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