Sunday, December 28, 2008

Goal Hit! 164 Species Seen in Indiana in 2008!

Cackling Goose

I left my mother-in-laws house this morning at approx. 10:45a with one mission - to find a Cackling Goose.  I decided to check out a small wetland spot in Grant County, IN near Taylor University where waterfowl is typically reliable.  As I approached the area and pulled alongside the highway, I was happy to see approx. 75-100 Canada Geese, however, I was also cautiously optimistic as I knew this would likely be my first of many unsuccessful stops for the morning.  As I began to scan the Geese I became instantly excited to see 1 goose that appeared to be out of place, much smaller than the others.  This particular goose was about the size of a 
Mallard, sat on the water more like a duck than a goose, had a much smaller head and neck, dabbled like a duck, often popping its rear straight in the air to find food, and yet, had all of the markings and looks of a Canada Goose.  I continued to watch in disbelief that I had completed my mission so quickly!  I studied the goose for about 30 minutes until I finally concluded that it was indeed a Cackling Goose.   The size, the bill, the neck, and its somewhat distant behavior compared to the other geese made it a certainty!  The bad news was that I forgot my camera so I had to go back to my mother-in-laws, get my camera, go back, re-find the Goose, then zoom as far as I could and take a ton of picture to get only a couple that were somewhat decent.  

I was fortunate enough to come across a Cackling Goose that was on the small side.  Some variations are somewhat larger and can be a bit more confusing to confirm as a Cackling Goose vs. a Canada Goose.  If you compare this Goose to both the Goose (with its head in the water) to the left and the Geese on the right you can see that this Cackling Goose is about the same size as a Mallard Duck.  You can also see the bill is much shorter than the typical Canada Goose. This particular Goose also behaved more like a duck in its feeding behavior and its size allowed it to actually bob up and down as a dabbling duck would while feeding, often flipping up and down only exposing its rear pointing to the sky!

Thanks to this Goose, I will be able to submit my name to the American Birding Association to be listed under Indiana's Annual List of Birds Seen in 2008!  I needed 164 Birds and I did it!  Next years goal will be 200!

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