That’s what this Cackling Goose at Daventry CP today is likely to elicit. Apparently it has been present two weeks among the local Canada Geese and, given its range along the western seaboard of North America, and its time and place of occurrence, it is almost certainly an escape – although it is a long-distance migrant!
Cackling Goose was split from Canada Goose as long ago as 2004 and four races are recognised: hutchinsii (‘Richardson’s Cackling Goose’), taverneri (‘Taverner’s Cackling Goose’), leucopareia (‘Aleutian Cackling Goose’) and minima (‘Ridgway’s Cackling Goose’). Each race is identifiable on a combination of structure and plumage characters and the individual at Daventry most closely resembles minima in plumage but it can sometimes appear a little larger than would be expected and the head shape is not quite right, minima should show a squarer head profile and shorter bill than this bird. So is it another race or a hybrid?
It’s between half and two-thirds the size of the accompanying Canada Geese, darker, shorter-necked and much smaller-billed. The main plumage difference is the all dark brown breast and belly, with the black at the base of the neck ‘fuzzing’ into it.
Richardson’s Cackling Goose is similar in size and can be almost as dark but has a clear cut neckline with normally a narrow white base dividing it from the brown breast.
Cackling Goose is not on the British List though a number of records have been accepted by BBRC. The Daventry individual is a nice bird and well worth a look, even though it must surely be an escape …