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Cackling Goose

Branta hutchinsii ORDER: ANSERIFORMES FAMILY: ANATIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.

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At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
21.7–29.5 in
55–75 cm
Weight
33.5–105.8 oz
950–3000 g
Other Names
  • Canada Goose (in part)
  • Bernache de Hutchins (French)

Cool Facts

  • 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.

Habitat


Lake/Pond

Breeds in coastal marshes, along tundra ponds and streams, and steep turf slopes above rocky shores.

Food


Plants

Entirely herbivorous. Eats variety of plant species and parts, especially grasses, sedges, grain, and berries.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
2–8 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white.
Condition at Hatching
Covered with down and eyes open. Leaves nest within 24 hours of hatching with the ability to swim and feed.
Nest Description

Nest a large open cup, made of dry grasses, lichens, and mosses, lined with down and some body feathers. Usually placed on slightly elevated sites near water. Some cliff nesting.

Nest Placement

Ground

Behavior


Dabbler

Grazes on grass. Tips up to reach aquatic vegetation. Feeds in flocks in fields.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Aleutian Cackling Goose was protected under the original Endangered Species Act in 1973, but was removed from the list in 2001. Other forms increasing, but still below long-term averages.

Credits

    1. Banks, R. C., et al. 2004. Forty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 121: 985-995.
    2. Mowbray, T. B., C. R. Ely, J. S. Sedinger, and R. E. Trost. 2002. Canada Goose (Branta canadensis). In The Birds of North America, No.682 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Cackling Goose Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings