Identification of Richardson's Canada Goose (B. c. hutchinsii)

Smallest and palest of the pale forms, the Richardson’s (or Baffin Island) Canada Goose (B. c. hutchinsii) is described as a small and dumpy bird with a square-looking head and short bill. They can appear silvery at distance, especially on the breast, and often appear short-legged. In some there is a pale collar, however, in many the lower border of the dark neck simply appears diffuse as paler feathers mixed with the darker ones. Hutchinsii have a shorter and deeper bill (appears stubby) than parvipes.Bree ding in the arctic, most winter near the Gulf coast of Texas and in Mexico. Hutchinsii is known to integrade with parvipes in an overlap zone around Hudson Bay and this may complicate the identification of many birds. Click here for more information on Canada Goose subspecies.

Here are two geese from southern New York that show characteristics of Hutchinsii. The first was photographed in Flushing, Queens County and the second is from eastern Long Island.

Fig. 1. A possible Richardson's Canada Goose stands with Atlantic Canada Geese (B. c. canadensis) on a frozen pool in northern section of Corona Park in New York City. A faint brown wash across the breast and well-defined white collar at the base of the black neck sock are quite evident. The rather similar western form parvipes is expected to have a slightly darker breast. Photos copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Fig. 2. Zoomed view of Fig. 1. Note the absence of a gular stripe (the narrow longitudinal stripe that runs along the chin in some subspecies). Photos copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Fig. 3. A slightly different angle on the Corona Park bird, showing the bill to better effect. Compared to the other birds, it is quite short and compact. The neatly arranged pale tips to the feathers on the upperparts suggest this is an adult. Photo copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Fig. 4. The Richardson's is the sixth bird on the left. The breast is noticeably darker than any of the other Canada Geese and the cheek patch has a buff wash to it. Even at this distance a neat white collar is clearly evident. Photo copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Fig. 5. The gray-brown breast is separated from the black neck sock by a neat white collar. A small fleck of black extends onto the throat within the cheek patch but does not extend all the way across. Photo copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Fig. 6. Detail of the head, showing the fleck of black extending onto the white chin patch. Photo copyright of Angus Wilson©.

Click here for more information on Canada Goose subspecies.

Photographs and page layout copyright of Angus Wilson©2003 All rights reserved.
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