Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2008-06

Common name:

Cackling Goose

Scientific name: Branta hutchinsii minima
Date: March 26, 2008
Time:  +-9:30a.m.
Length of time observed: +- 15 minutes
Number: 1
Age: presumably adult
Sex: ?
Location: Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area
County: Davis
Elevation: +- 4,200 feet
Distance to bird: approx. 35 to 40 yards
Optical equipment: Barska 10x42 binoculars and various scopes being used by various observers in group
Weather: Partly cloudy
Light Conditions: Bright sun to "flat" light as clouds passed over
Description:        Size of bird: A bit larger than a Mallard
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Small goose
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown, black, white - standard Cackling/Canada coloring
(Description:)            Bill Type: Tiny and black
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The bird was about the size of a Mallard. It was with a group of C.moffitii - difference in size between the bird and them was remarkable. Bird had a very tiny, black bill. Steep culmen. Round head - not a trace of squarishness or "boxiness". Mantle was overall brown, undertail coverts white. Head and neck black with classic white chin "strap". No color differentiation between its dark breast (which in the right light had a purplish sheen) and its flanks - both were brownish. This bird had a very narrow but easily seen white neck ring.
(see photo)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Paddling in shallow pond along with Canada geese and several species of ducks. It also flew at one point along with the Canada geese and the size differences were noted.
Habitat: Shallow pond surrounded by mixed grasses and upland desert shrubbery.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
No Canada Goose is this small, not even the "lesser" Canada Goose. No other Cackling Goose has as dark a breast and so round a head. Size of bill was extremely small.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
First sighting for me and for many others in the field trip group. One group member had seen one earlier this year. I've seen two forms of Canada Goose but never a cackler.
References consulted: (After "calling" the bird, about 5 minutes into watching it): Sibley's field guide and newest edition of National Geographic guide.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: David Jensen
Observer's address: 328 2nd Avenue #8, Salt Lake City, Utah 84103
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Bob Huntington
Date prepared: 3/29/08
Additional material: Photo
Additional Comments: I have spent a good amount of time looking at photos and reading up on Canada and Cackling geese and felt I'd learned enough to be able to identify this bird 100%. I don't know how to attach the photo of the bird to this form so will send it separately to Milton Moody via e-mail. The photo was taken by Deedee O'Brien. She gave me permission to send it as long as I named her as the one who took the photo. The minima is the bird in front of photo.