[CT Birds] hybrid geese

greg hanisek ctgregh at yahoo.com
Fri Nov 14 16:10:07 EST 2014

I've been meaning to post something on this subject for awhile, and the presence of a bird with at least partial Canada Goose parentage at Broad Brook Pond finally got me to expound (or blather, whatever). Hybrids are always tricky to deal with, but especially so with waterfowl. As a group ducks and geese interbreed more readily than most groups, and the presence of a motley array of domestic waterfowl in parks, ponds etc. only add to the uncertainty.

I'm skeptical about birds that seem to represent hybrids between Canada and Greater White-fronted Geese. With the general increase in Arctic nesting geese, the likelihood is that these two species can and do hybridize. But I think it's very difficult to determine if a bird that seems to represent this pairing isn't actually a Canada Goose X some kind of domestic goose. Since there are domestic type White-fronted as well as Graylag Geese, a very obvious White-fronted trait, such as the white facial front, doesn't have to be from a wild parent. It's not hard to find a Canada or two in any large assemblage that shows some non-Canada traits but figuring out their source is probably speculative at best in most cases.

Greg Hanisek

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