Date: 11/24/18 9:19 pm From: Hendrik Herlyn <hhactitis...> Subject: [obol] Fake "Emperor" Goose (hybrid) at Finley today
This morning, Pam Otley found an interesting goose on McFadden Marsh (Finely NWR) that at first glance resembled an Emperor Goose. I was able to relocate the bird a little later and get some distant photos. Apparently, the same bird was seen by Deanna Emig south of Finley a few days ago. My photos can be seen here:
The goose is about the same size as a Cackling Goose, with a mostly white head and back of neck. The cheeks are mottled with black, and the front of the neck is black, very similar to the pattern found in Emperor Goose. However, the very short, stubby bill is entirely black. The body is mostly dark brown, similar to a Cackler, and lacking the bluish-gray sheen and heavy scalloping of a true Emperor Goose - to my eye, the back pattern is right between Cackler and EMGO. The vent is mostly white (again similar to Cackling Goose and unlike EMGO), with some black speckling. Unfortunately, the bird remained in the water the entire time and I was unable to see the leg color.
This bird bears a striking resemblance to one found at Fernhill Wetland, Washington County, in mid-October this year. Its identity was discussed on OBOL at the time, and Scott Carpenter posted a series of excellent pictures (I'm forwarding the link below for comparison).
There was speculation that the Fernhill bird most like represented a hybrid between Cackling Goose and Emperor Goose. It is my feeling that the same is true for the Finley bird (I wonder if it could even be the same bird that was at Fernhill earlier this fall). An extended Google search of various hybrid combinations produced nothing that completely resembled my bird. The closest are several known (captive) hybrids between Emperor and Barnacle Goose, but their bills tend to look a little bigger than on the Finley bird. I have found no pictures of hybrids between Cackling and Ross's or Snow Geese that look anywhere near the Finley bird. The same goes for all other combinations. The overall pattern of Barnacle and Cackling Geese is somewhat similar, and I believe the most likely ancestry for the Finley bird (as well as the Fernhill bird) is Cackling and Emperor Goose. I am curious if others out there have any additional insights. A fascinating bird - thanks, Pam, for quickly getting the word out!
Happy wild goose chasing
-- __________________________ Hendrik G. Herlyn Corvallis, OR
*"Nature is not a place to visit. It is home." -- Gary Snyder*