The Cackling Goose appears almost identical to what are known by many as Canadian Geese: mottled gray-brown body, black legs, tail, neck, head and face, with a white chin strap stretching from ear to ear and a white rump band. Like Canada Geese, some Cackling Geese show a white collar at the base of the neck and/or a black chin-stripe dividing the white cheek patches. Cackling Geese are best distinguished from Canada Geese by overall body size, bill shape and size, and voice.
Appearance: – Generally the Cackling Goose is smaller although the various sub-species do vary in size, the beak appears to be more stubby, the neck is slightly shorter, and their call is higher pitched. It has a black head and neck with a white chinstrap, light-brown breast, sometimes a white neck-ring, a grey-brown back, under-parts from belly to tail are whitish, and the stubby beak and legs are black. Both sexes are alike with the male usually slightly larger.
Size: – Typical Adult is 22-30 inches.
Food: – Mostly grasses, seeds, aquatic plants, crops, and grain. Will also eat insects, molluscs and crustaceans.
Habitat: – Tundra, streams, coastal marshes, floodplains, and will graze in agricultural fields in winter. Native to North America, it breeds in Canada and Alaska (further north than the Canada Goose), and the Aleutian Islands, and winters further south in western Canada, mainly western USA, northern Mexico, and occasionally in eastern China, Japan, and eastern Siberia.
Breeding Season: – April to June.
Eggs: – 2 to 8 (creamy white).
Notes: – The Cackling-Goose belongs to the Branta genus (Black Geese) and is native to North America. The Cackling Goose was thought to be the same species or a sub-species of the Canada Goose but from July 2004 is now considered to be a different species by the American Ornithologists’ Union’s (AOU) Committee on Classification. There are several sub-species of Cackling Geese including the Richardson’s Cackling-Goose, Aleutian Cackling-Goose, Small Cackling-Goose, Taverner’s Cackling-Goose, and Bering Cackling-Goose. The distinctions between the Cackling-Goose and the Canada Goose have led to a great deal of confusion and debate among ornithologists.