Winter is a time when we must check out the waterfowl on every pond and in every field. We must sort through that flock of 500 Canada Geese in hopes of coming up with a gem. A Pink-footed Goose was discovered at Cushetunk Lake State Park in Whitehouse Station in Hunterdon County on December 5. This is a second New Jersey record of this goose. There has been a Greater White-fronted Goose present in Warinanco Park in Roselle along with a Cackling Goose.
Pink-footed Geese have only recently been finding there way to North America from Europe by way of Greenland as populations there have increased with these birds probably joining Canada Geese flocks heading back to North America. The same holds true for one race of Greater White-fronted Goose. Cackling Goose looks like a dwarf Canada Goose and up until a few years back was just considered a race of Canada Goose. It is the size of a Mallard and has a very tiny bill. You can try to make a Canada Goose into a Cackling Goose, but you will never try to make a Cackling Goose into a Canada Goose.
Don’t forget to also look for Barnacle Goose as it too can visit us from Greenland. You may look at that flock of Canada Geese and say boring, but there could be a treasure in there for you to discover.
Pink-footed Goose: Image from NJ Audubon Collection
Greater White-fronted Goose: Image from NJ Audubon Collection
Cackling Goose in Front of a Canada Goose: Imager from NJA Collection
Barnacle Goose: Image by Larry Scacchetti