Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Why Birding is Never Boring
Out for a walk one day, I just happened to have a camera when I saw this large flock of geese doing a little grounds maintenance in the baseball field. Canada Geese are one of the easier birds to catch with a camera, so I snapped a few pictures without pausing too long to look them over. They're just Canada Geese, right?
When I pulled the photos off the camera, I looked a little closer.
Some of these geese have a white band under the black neck. And although you can't tell it from the photo, the birds in the picture were smaller than some others in the flock.
In The Sibley Guide to Birds we see that the Aleutian and Cackling goose forms have that white stripe; however, "all populations [of Canada Geese] are variable; many intermediate birds cannot be identified."
In fact, as it turns out, "recent work on genetic differences found the four smallest forms [of Canada Geese] to be very different. These four races are now recognized as a full species: the Cackling Goose." From Cornell's All About Birds.
So, will the birding police issue a ticket if I claim another species on my life list?