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Cackling Goose Life History


Habitat Lakes and PondsBreeds in coastal marshes, along tundra ponds and streams, and steep turf slopes above rocky shores.Back to top


Food PlantsEntirely herbivorous. Eats variety of plant species and parts, especially grasses, sedges, grain, and berries.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

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.

Nesting Facts

Clutch Size:2-8 eggs
Number of Broods:1 brood
Incubation Period:25-28 days
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.
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Behavior Ground ForagerGrazes on grass. Tips up to reach aquatic vegetation. Feeds in flocks in fields.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernThere is little information on population numbers and trends of Cackling Goose. The population that nest on the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska are estimated to number between 290,000-390,00 breeding individuals, and this population has been stable from 2006 to 2015. The Aleutian Cackling Goose was protected under the original Endangered Species Act in 1973, but was removed from the list in 2001. Other forms may be increasing, but still appear to be below long-term averages. The species rates an 11 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Cackling Goose is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List.Back to top


Banks, R. C., C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, A. W. Kratter, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen Jr., J. D. Rising and D. F. Stotz. (2004). Forty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 121 (3):985-995.

Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. (2019). Longevity records of North American birds. Version 1019 Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2019.

Mowbray, Thomas B., Craig R. Ely, James S. Sedinger and Robert E. Trost. (2002). Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY, USA.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (2015). Waterfowl population status, 2015. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior.

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