Ross's Goose was one of the first rare birds I found as an awkward teen birder; for that, I am forever grateful. Photographed at Lake Merced, San Francisco, CA.
As always, I have a huge backlog of photos that are actually fit for exhibition on the interwebs, and so I decided to dive into my digital goose reservoir for today...it is winter, after all, and much of the country is being grazed by geese of all of kinds. I also figure that some of you probably need to take a break from your gull-inspired migraines...geese are a bit easier to handle.
I've always admired geese; their long-distance migrations, their penchant for vagrancy, their mixed species flocks, their good looks and (usually) mild demeanor, their fantastic noises, their huge flocks, their monogamy (not that I'm fixated on monogamy, I just think geese are way better at it than people are), their family migrations and their social hierarchy in flocks. They are also delicious, although I can't say I've had the opportunity to eat a wild one yet.
Which is not why we are here at all. Sorry I don't have a good Nene shot, or else they would be included...and as far as Taiga Bean-Goose, Tundra Bean-Goose, Lesser White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose and Barnacle Goose...those are the geese that dreams are made of.
Compared to Snow Geese, Ross' are off the cute scale, probably due to a combination of the round head, wee bill and comparatively large eye. There has actually been a study on how people perceive cuteness (which I am too lazy to find at the moment); one thing I do remember is that head shape goes a long way.
Snow Goose. A novice birder might say "God, that looks like the same damn bird as the Ross's". To that I would reply, "If two twins were standing in front of you, and one was wearing black lipstick, do you really think you wouldn't notice the difference?". Said novice birder would then be incredibly ashamed for overlooking something so obvious and I would have to offer them strong drink to make them feel better. Photographed at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, CA.
Blue Snow Goose, a bird of much snazziness. Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge.
Brant are not impressed by lawns and agricultural fields; they stick to bays and estuaries. Being completely addicted to eelgrass for much of the year, they typically don't stray very far from where their beloved aquatic grass grows.
Cackling Geese are easy to identify; they are mini Canada Geese. If you want to get into the fun stuff, you can identify them to subspecies if you get close enough. This bird's triangular bill, white throat, dark subterminal band on the greater coverts, and lack of white neck ring make this bird a Ridgway's Cackling Goose. Photographed at Lake Merritt, Oakland, CA.
Another good thing about geese is that they tend to take up residency at city parks from time to time, where they can be crushed with even the smallest camera lens without dire effects.
Greater White-fronted Goose. Most of my best goose shots are of this species, we have a good relationship. Photographed at Lake Merced.
Emperor Goose (middle) is the vagrant goose that we on the west coast look for every winter; the vast majority of them on our continent stay within the confines of Alaska throughout the year. This one is a bit dingy looking, apparently not a full adult yet, but they can be completely crippling birds. Canada (of the Dusky variety, I believe...I had to include Canadas somewhere in this post right?) and Greater White-fronted Geese stand to either side. Photographed at Ocean Shores, WA.