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Help with Canada Goose subspecies - Ottawa, Ontario

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Old Monday 4th February 2008, 23:53   #1
pjblake
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Help with Canada Goose subspecies - Ottawa, Ontario

I posted this a while back, but I didn't get any takers, so I thought I'd give it another go. This photo was taken in November 2007; it didn't strike me as anything more than a curiousity until I started looking into the Canada Goose subspecies split. Now I'm going through my old photos of geese, trying to make out what specific kind they all are. This one is pretty intriguing, but I can't say for sure what I have here.

My hunch is the "Giant Goose," Branta canadensis maxima. The whitish-brown "eyebrow" is a strong indicator, although in B. c. maxima the "eyebrow" tends to be entirely white and more above the bill than over the eye. When this photo was taken, this particular bird was with a small gaggle of geese, no more than 6 altogether. I don't remember it being bigger than the others (a sure characteristic for the maxima subspecies), but it was the only one with that trademark "eyebrow." Maybe it's some kind of intermediate between a "Giant" goose and an "Atlantic" or "Interior" (B. c. canadensis and B. c. interior respectively)? Any thoughts?
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2008, 01:05   #2
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Originally Posted by pjblake View Post
I posted this a while back, but I didn't get any takers, so I thought I'd give it another go. This photo was taken in November 2007; it didn't strike me as anything more than a curiousity until I started looking into the Canada Goose subspecies split. Now I'm going through my old photos of geese, trying to make out what specific kind they all are. This one is pretty intriguing, but I can't say for sure what I have here.

My hunch is the "Giant Goose," Branta canadensis maxima. The whitish-brown "eyebrow" is a strong indicator, although in B. c. maxima the "eyebrow" tends to be entirely white and more above the bill than over the eye. When this photo was taken, this particular bird was with a small gaggle of geese, no more than 6 altogether. I don't remember it being bigger than the others (a sure characteristic for the maxima subspecies), but it was the only one with that trademark "eyebrow." Maybe it's some kind of intermediate between a "Giant" goose and an "Atlantic" or "Interior" (B. c. canadensis and B. c. interior respectively)? Any thoughts?
My guess (FWIW) is that the white smudging on your bird lacks any taxonomic significance. In my experience, random seeming whitish smudges and speckling on the head and neck are not uncommon on Canada Geese. But I'm no expert and this is just my 2 cents.

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Old Tuesday 5th February 2008, 01:17   #3
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Moffiti can sometimes show a similar looking mark on the forehead. It's browner than most western large forms which tend to be grayer although it is rather dark looking in this picture, perhaps a bit underexposed? It very well could be an intergrade. My guess is between interior and maxima in your area but canadensis could have also played a role here as well.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2008, 01:44   #4
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I wouldn't bet too much on the moffiti, since that one ranges between the Rockies and the Pacific. If it was, by some chance, that would be a rarity in itself, all the way out on the Eastern Seaboard!

As far as the random smudging, fugl, I figured that's exactly what it was when I first saw it. I didn't learn about the Canada/Cackling Goose split and all the other subspecies until later on, which is what resparked my interest. I'd still pass it off for nothing than a random discoloration, except that the discoloration is in such a particular spot, so close to what would be expected in B. c. maxima, that I can't quite agree with it.

Thanks to both of you, though, I appreciate any feedback.
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Old Tuesday 5th February 2008, 02:02   #5
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I wouldn't bet too much on the moffiti, since that one ranges between the Rockies and the Pacific. If it was, by some chance, that would be a rarity in itself, all the way out on the Eastern Seaboard!

As far as the random smudging, fugl, I figured that's exactly what it was when I first saw it. I didn't learn about the Canada/Cackling Goose split and all the other subspecies until later on, which is what resparked my interest. I'd still pass it off for nothing than a random discoloration, except that the discoloration is in such a particular spot, so close to what would be expected in B. c. maxima, that I can't quite agree with it.

Thanks to both of you, though, I appreciate any feedback.
I only mentioned moffiti to inform that it too can have a white eyebrow. My guess was that it was most likely an intergrade.
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Old Wednesday 6th February 2008, 00:47   #6
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I only mentioned moffiti to inform that it too can have a white eyebrow. My guess was that it was most likely an intergrade.
That's my best guess too. I think Canada goose subspecies ID is right up there with redpoll subspecies ID...best not to even bother.

Thanks for your suggestions, Gentoo, I think you're right about the intergrade.
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