- ORDER: Anseriformes
- FAMILY: Anatidae
The Cackling Goose looks like a miniature version of the widespread Canada Goose, with which it was once combined as a single species. The two are almost identical in plumage, but Cackling Geese are more delicate, with stubbier bills, steeper foreheads, shorter necks (strikingly apparent in flying birds), and usually more rounded heads. Their calls are higher in pitch than those of Canada Geese. Like their larger relatives, Cackling Geese forage in marshes and fields in large flocks, often mixed with other goose species.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Cackling Geese breed in remote northern Canada and Alaska, so for most people the best times to look for them are on migration and in winter. During these seasons they can bw fairly common in the Pacific Northwest, California’s Central Valley, southern Great Plains, and Texas/Louisiana coast. Among Canada Geese, look carefully for a small, short-necked goose with a short bill—just remember that Canada Geese often draw their necks in when resting, making them look small.
- Barnacla Canadiense Chica (Spanish)
- Bernache de Hutchins (French)
- Cool Facts
- Listen out for the distinctively high-pitched call of the Cackling Goose—that's where the common name "Cackling" comes from—noticeably different from Canada Geese.
- The Cackling Goose was long considered a group of smaller subspecies of the Canada Goose. In 2004, the smallest 4 of the 11 recognized Canada Goose subspecies were split out as the Cackling Goose. Canada and Cackling Geese hybridize in several locations, which can further complicate identification in the field.
- Most Cackling Geese nest along ponds and streams in the tundra, but the Aleutian subspecies nests on south-facing turf slopes above sea cliffs. The "Richardson's" subspecies can nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on cliffs and steep rock slopes.
- The smallest Cackling Goose subspecies (minima) is only one-quarter the size of the largest subspecies of Canada Goose (maxima), which weighs up to 11 pounds.
- The oldest recorded Cackling Goose was a male at least 22 years, 8 months old when he was shot in Oregon in 2010. He had been banded in Alaska in 1987.