Canada x Snow Goose Hybrid – Its Parentage Had Bewildered Me

/, Canada Geese, Hybrid Geese, Salt Lake County, Utah/Canada x Snow Goose Hybrid – Its Parentage Had Bewildered Me

Canada Goose hybrid taking off from a pondCanada Goose hybrid taking off from a pond – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 500, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

After four days of not being in the field to photograph I felt I had to get out yesterday, my fingers were getting twitchy and cabin fever was setting in. The problem was the weather, it wasn’t all that great in the morning with clouds hanging overhead but when a break in the clouds appeared I got ready to head to the local pond but by the time I got there the sun was hiding behind the clouds again.

Despite the cruddy light I scoped out the birds on the pond and spotted a white-headed goose. I knew that any images I took of it were going to be just for the purpose of documentation but I wanted photos of that white-headed goose to look at on my monitor at home so I fired away when it started to lift off from the pond.

When I first spotted the white-headed goose I suspected that it might be leucistic but when I saw the pinkish colored legs I figured that the goose had to be a hybridization of a Canada Goose and some other goose species. Canada Geese have black legs and feet. The bill of the white-headed goose wasn’t pure black like it is on Canada Geese either.

The light was awful and the image quality of these first two photos kind of stinks.

Canada Goose hybrid in Salt Lake CountyCanada Goose hybrid in Salt Lake County – Nikon D500, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

After checking out another nearby pond and going back to the first one I relocated the odd white-headed goose but the light was even worse. The white-headed goose was resting in the water near some normal Canada Geese and American Coots. The odd goose lacks the distinct separation of blacks and browns on the necks of Canada Geese and the plumage on its neck is brown not black and its chest feathers are darker than those of the Canada Geese.

Canada Goose and Canada Goose hybrid in flightCanada Goose and Canada Goose hybrid in flight – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Just after noon the sun peeked out of the clouds and I went back to the pond to see if I could find the odd looking white-headed goose again and scoped all the geese I saw on or near the pond and didn’t see it. Well, it must have been with the resting geese on the shoreline with its head tucked away because when about a dozen of those geese lifted off I spotted the white head of the goose among them.

I missed a few images of it because I couldn’t lock on right away but then I locked on and was able to take a few images of the hybrid in flight next to a normal Canada Goose before it flew out of sight.

Canada Goose hybrid in flight with a normal Canada GooseCanada Goose hybrid in flight with a normal Canada Goose – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Canada Goose hybrid could be a Canada x Snow Goose or a Canada x Greater White-fronted Goose hybrid, those two species make the most sense to me, but I can’t be certain of its parentage. I searched and searched on line for images of other hybrid Canada Geese and asked for help in a Facebook group but don’t have a definitive ID. More people thought it was a Greater White-fronted Goose hybrid than a Canada x Snow Goose. At this point I tend to lean more towards Canada x Snow Goose.

Perhaps by posting it here someone who knows geese hybrids better than I do can let me know what they think of this of goose’s parentage.

I might never know what kind of hybrid this white-headed goose is but I hope it sticks around so I can take more images of this fascinating and odd looking goose. I think it is beautiful and unique.

Update: After hearing from many people the consensus is that this is a Canada x Snow Goose hybrid which is what I thought it might be.

Life is good.

Mia

11 Comments

  1. Mia McPherson December 19, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Thank you all for your comments on this Canada Goose hybrid mystery. Although it can not be 100% accurate the consensus from various people is that this is a Canada X Snow Goose hybrid, probably a dark morph Snow Goose. Whatever its parentage is I think it is a handsome looking bird. Also, I saw it again from a distance yesterday so I might be able to get more images of it soon.

  2. Linda Hutchinson December 18, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you Mia for solving the mystery of the white headed goose I saw in November.

  3. Linda Hutchinson December 18, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Thank you Mia for solving the mystery of the white headed goose I saw in November. Was not sure exactly what I saw.

  4. Elephant's Child December 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Intriguing. Thank you.
    And I can’t help noticing that despite its ‘different’ appearance, the other geese accept it much more readily than we accept difference.

  5. April Olson December 18, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Beautiful photo side by side in flight.

  6. Sue Smith December 18, 2016 at 11:31 am

    When I first saw the image, I thought immediately of a Barnacle Goose. The shape of the head seems similar, and the coloring on the head is close. It does not, however, address the issue of the colored legs. And when I think of Barnacle Goose, I think of Scotland, although there was a documentation at Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge in the very early 70s. I was fortunate to see it then.

  7. Glen Fox December 18, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Mia,
    Another option ..a partially leucistic Canada Goose. Too bad we can’t ask it! :=) If a hybrid, my bet is with a White-fronted Goose.

  8. Patty Chadwick December 18, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Interesting images…head shape looks more like a Snow Goose than Canada Goose…

  9. Brian Wallace December 18, 2016 at 8:12 am

    I live in central New York in farmland country and we get thousands of geese over the weeks of their flights south. Many of the flocks are inter-mingled with both Canada Geese and Snow Geese and they land together in the corn fields. When they are in flight the Snow Geese are always flying above the Canada Geese.

  10. Liz Cormack December 18, 2016 at 6:34 am

    I came across a hybrid goose in November but mine was more Greater White-fronted Goose crossed with a Canada Goose. It had the white patch on its face but also the white chin strap of the Canada Goose. Definitely odd looking. You have some wonderful images for comparison that’s for sure.

  11. Bob mcpherson December 18, 2016 at 6:33 am

    Took photos, Mia. Have never sern a white headed goose before.

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