As a supplement to my post on the Cackling Goose Conundrum, I present a few photos of Cackling Goose (presumably b.h.hutchinsii). I have been looking at the subspecies of Cackling and other interesting "White-cheeked Geese" and the variation makes the ongoing study quite interesting.
This Cackling Goose shows a small bill and head and really falls well within the range of the Cackling species of "White-cheeked Geese." This is considered to be Richardson's Cackling or Branta Hutchinsii Hutchinsii. The head shape is not as blocky looking; however, keep in mind that head shape could show a lot of variation for a number of reasons such as posture.
This Cackling Goose also shows the classic small bill expected on a Richardson's Cackling or Branta Hutchinsii Hutchinsii. Note the head and forehead shape. There is more of a sloping effect instead of the steep look often seen with b.h.hutchinsii.
Here we have two Cackling Geese side by side for comparison. Small bill and small head all stay consistent. Note the variation in head shape. Do you think this is legitimate or a result of the difference in posture. In this photo you could see that the plumage is a bit different where one is slightly darker than the other. Also, look at the cheek patch to see the subtle differences.
Rather than posting additional individual Cackling Geese photos, I have decided to throw this out. Take a look at this crude collage of "White-cheeked Geese" head shots. How many do you think might be Cackling Geese? Identify them by number.
Tags: Cackling Goose, Ornithology