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Cackling Goose?


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I'm not so sure this isn't a Cackling Goose.  It might be a little big compared to the Mallard (pretty sure that's a decoy) but it is in front.  The bill looks short, neck looks short though it's hard to tell for sure in this relaxed pose.  I think I'm leaning toward Cackling Goose.

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My main turnoff from Cackling is the size. The forehead and bill size look borderline to me, so I wouldn't rule it out by those alone.  But now that I'm measuring more carefully this bird looks to be right around 36", which puts it at least 6" larger than the largest Cacklings (Crossley ID guide lists up to 30", most resources even less).

Thanks for the replies!

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14 hours ago, Melierax said:

maybe the Lesser subspecies

There are other smaller subsp of Canada in the northeast, and this is decidedly a Canada. The bill is concave and thin, both at the base and, particularly, in the middle. The cheek patch does not have the step that is typical of, at least, Richardson's Cackler, which is, far and away, the most-likely Cackler that far east.

 

13 hours ago, TKbird said:

Maybe 35" is a better estimate

Since one cannot know the actual distance between the goose and the Mallard, particularly as telephoto photography plays strange games with apparent distance relationships, determining the size relationship between the two birds is impossible.

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2 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

There are other smaller subsp of Canada in the northeast, and this is decidedly a Canada. The bill is concave and thin, both at the base and, particularly, in the middle. The cheek patch does not have the step that is typical of, at least, Richardson's Cackler, which is, far and away, the most-likely Cackler that far east.

Thanks, this is helpful!

 

2 hours ago, Tony Leukering said:

Since one cannot know the actual distance between the goose and the Mallard, particularly as telephoto photography plays strange games with apparent distance relationships, determining the size relationship between the two birds is impossible.

I have not experienced this before, but I'll take your word for it.

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14 hours ago, TKbird said:

My understanding is that all normal Mallards are approximately 23".

Well, AllAboutBirds.com lists Mallards as ranging from 19.7" to 25.6".  23" is within that range, but I'm not sure where you picked up the definition of that as the norm.  There's a 20% variation in size in Mallards, with no way to tell from this photo how long the bird is to the inch.

I'm big on using comparison to guess-timate a bird's size, but I suggest sticking to inanimate objects of known standard sizes (2x4s (technically 1.75" x 3.5"), suet cages, shingles, etc.) or other birds with less variation in size.

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Yep, you're right, that's my bad!  I looked in several field guides but forgot that they don't list ranges.  Although the tail ends of the size range are probably pretty unusual; I've never seen two Mallards together that looked 6" different!

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31 minutes ago, Tony Leukering said:

With males occupying the upper part of that variation

Acknowledged, but as you noted, there's the telephoto issue.  It also appears neither of these birds are perpendicular to the camera, which would make the 'head to tail' lengths appear shorter than they are.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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