Cackling Goose

Aleutian cackling goose
Cackling Geese, such as this Aleutian, closely resemble and were once considered Canada Goose subspecies.

For years, the Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) was considered one of several smaller Canada Goose subspecies.  In 2004, The American Ornithological Union (AUO) reclassified them, and this species is now considered to be their own species entirely. Further confusing those of us that will forever lump Canadas as bigs, littles and middles, it’s been proposed that Canada and cackling geese be into 6 species and 200 subspecies! For now, there are 4 subspecies of cackling geese and generalized below. The Cackling Goose has a short neck comparable to body size and has similar features to the Canada Goose. All display the black head and neck with white cheek patches, the white “U” on the black rump, and overall gray-brown body. Differences lie with the body size, plumage shades, and vocalizations. Thee seems to be a coloration gradient that’s increasingly darker to the west, and, especially when lumping Canadas and cacklers as one species, increased size to the south. All cackling geese subspecies have a high-pitched call with short, bark-like or yelp-like notes.