The Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) is a North American bird of the genus Branta of black geese, which contains species with largely black plumage, distinguishing them from the grey Anser species. The black head and neck with white “chinstrap” distinguish this goose from all other geese except the larger Canada Goose (Branta canadensis).Some are hard to distinguish from the Canada Goose, with which the Cackling Goose was long assumed to form one species. [Wikipedia]
The newly recognized Cackling Goose is a smaller version of the Canada Goose. Formerly considered the smallest subspecies of one variable species, recent work on genetic differences found the four smallest forms to be very different. These four races are now recognized as a full species: the Cackling Goose. It breeds farther northward and westward than does the Canada Goose. [All About Birds]
Cackling Goose Facts [All About Birds]
- The Cackling Goose was long considered just a small race of the Canada Goose. The smallest four of the eleven recognized races were recently determined to be distinct enough to be their own species. Cackling Goose includes the races known as Taverner’s, Richardson’s, Aleutian, and Cackling geese. Confusingly, the “Lesser Canada Goose” is still a race of the Canada Goose.
- Although most Cackling Geese nest along ponds and streams in the tundra, the Aleutian form nests on south-facing turf slopes above rocky, cliff-bound shorelines. The Richardson’s form can nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on cliffs and steep rock slopes.
- The smallest form of the Cackling Goose is only a quarter the size of the “Giant Canada Goose” subspecies.
- The oldest recorded Cackling Goose was a male, and at least 22 years, 8 months old when he was shot in Oregon in 2010. He had been banded in Alaska in 1987.