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Cackling or Canada Geese? Berkeley California USA (1 Viewer)

Hi all,
I'm sure this is a pretty common one to come through the forum...
I saw two geese this morning that were sort of associating with a large flock of Canada Geese, but sort of separate. To my eye, they had a somewhat shorter neck and relatively smaller bill than the Canadas, so I wondered if they were Cackling Geese. I still have quite a bit of trouble with these. Photos are attached - if anybody has an idea, please let me know! And if you are able, letting me know HOW you know would be great!
This was taken this morning (Dec 10) in Berkeley, northern California.
Thank you!
Tim
 

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tom baxter

Well-known member
the birds in this picture are about as intermediate as it gets, showing a mixture of traits between Canada and Cackling. I would probably call them Canada geese without more evidence supporting Cackling, but I will share my thoughts a little more:

there are a number of Cackling traits including squarish heads, brown chests and smallish bills. If you had any other photos, it is possible that the length of the primaries could help determine the species. As far as I know Cackling have longer primary feathers as they are longer distance migrants than Canada Geese. I am not seeing any hint of a pale "necklace" which is a strike against Cackling but does not rule it out.

These two species give most people trouble, but maybe someone with more experience/knowledge can weigh in here. I would consider myself an advanced birder but by no means an expert on Canada/Cackling Goose and subspecies. I'd be interested to hear too if anyone can conclusively identify these two.
 

birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
the birds in this picture are about as intermediate as it gets, showing a mixture of traits between Canada and Cackling. I would probably call them Canada geese without more evidence supporting Cackling, but I will share my thoughts a little more:

there are a number of Cackling traits including squarish heads, brown chests and smallish bills. If you had any other photos, it is possible that the length of the primaries could help determine the species. As far as I know Cackling have longer primary feathers as they are longer distance migrants than Canada Geese. I am not seeing any hint of a pale "necklace" which is a strike against Cackling but does not rule it out.

These two species give most people trouble, but maybe someone with more experience/knowledge can weigh in here. I would consider myself an advanced birder but by no means an expert on Canada/Cackling Goose and subspecies. I'd be interested to hear too if anyone can conclusively identify these two.

I agree that they don't look like straightforward Cackling Geese. I would leave them as Cackling/Canada, leaning more towards Canada.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
I'd go for Canada, the bills strike me as large; the birds are also very dark, so I'd be thinking of B. c. occidentalis or B. c. fulva.
 

DarkFireFalcon

Well-known member
These look like pretty typical Canada Geese to me. They aren't as huge and long-billed as the resident birds you see breeding in much of the US, but they fit the migratory subspecies of Canada fine.
 

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