It's a Cackler, look at the bill

January 17, 2017

One of my all time favorite quotes from one of the biggest personalities in birding here in Utah, "It's a Cackler, look at the bill!".  You have to know the voice to understand the effect of this sentence.  A few birders reading this might know who I'm referring to and can really appreciate what a great quote it is.  And speaking of Cacklers, and "those bills", here is a Cackling Goose I came across on the way home from work this week, just a couple miles from home in the heart of Sandy, Utah.

"Look at bill!!!"

And here it is next to a lovely little "Lesser" or Parvipes Canada Goose, showing how much smaller it is and how that bill shape is so different.

Lesser Canada Goose (L) with Cackling Goose (R)

Much to my chagrin, this goose has kept around the area much of the week and was still here over the weekend.  I'm a little obsessed with undersized white-chinned geese, and any chance I get to look at Cackling Geese I overindulge.  I've got twice as many Cackling Goose photos on my website as Canada Goose--despite the obvious disparity in the number of Canada Geese over Cackling Geese I see annually.  So when I drove through "downtown" Sandy and saw the flock of geese was feeding in the median on Centennial Parkway, I couldn't help but pull up and take a few more pictures...

Cackling Goose (L) and Lesser Canada Goose (R)

 Lesser Canada Goose (L) with Cackling Goose (R)

Grainy picture in terrible light--but I had to take it... Just "look at the bill"

So the point of this post--there is no point, I just really like Cackling Geese.  But if there must be a takeaway, it's this--next time you see a Cackling Goose, point at it and say the following in a voice that makes you smile, "It's a Cackler, look at the bill".  It will make your birding experience all the more enjoyable!


At January 17, 2017 at 8:50 PM , Blogger Vjera Thompson said...

In the next to last picture, it looks like the Lesser has a leg band.

Here in Oregon, most of our Cacklers are in giant flocks swirling overhead. I don't typically get to "look at the bill". But you nicely captured the difference!

At January 18, 2017 at 7:55 AM , Blogger Tim Avery said...


It does have a leg band! I tried to read it but it looked rather old and I couldn't make out any of the digits.

In Utah most of the Cacklers we see are individuals, pairs, or very small groups. But having one this cooperative and close to the camera was a rare treat!



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