First, the small Canadas. Note that the usual caveats to white-cheeked goose identification apply here...there are many pitfalls! For a quick summary, check out David Sibley's blog post on the subject or this article in Cackling Goose ID by Mlodinow et. al.
I find that my confidence in identifying white-cheeked geese waxes and wanes from year to year. Or, more accurately, perhaps flock to flock. I am currently in a "less confident" phase, perhaps owing a bit to recent interest discussions on the topic.
Both of today's small Canada Geese are birds that I usually put squarely into the Canada Goose category, and for all I know that may be correct. But I am going to post some photos here to show just how small these geese looked next to adjacent obvious Canadas. The size difference held up well in the field throughout my prolonged observation. However, in each of these birds, the only thing I would call somewhat Cackling-like was their overall small size. Their bills were less obviously long, as least for Bird #1, but still what I felt was fine for Canada Goose.
Small Canada #1:
This bird was the smaller of the two subject birds. Here, in direct comparison to two obviously large Canada Geese, which I am tentatively placing in the moffitti/maxima group.
|at left, next to a large Canada|
|dark gular stripe|
|at left, next to same large Canada as above|
|at right, next to different large Canada|
Small Canada #2:
Less impressively small with proportionately longer bill than Bird #1, but still obvious in small size in the field. One of the darker-breasted birds in the flock.
And last but not least, the hybrid. This appears to be a hybrid with a domestic goose. I do not see Snow Goose genes here, due to large size (the bird is a monster), orange legs, and lack of a "grin patch."
|hybrid Canada x "domestic" goose|
Anyway, a few somewhat interesting birds to chew on. Hey, it was a slow day! I don't see any reason to call these two small Canadas anything other than just that. Comments always welcome.