Updated November 28, 2004: I have updated the scientific names used on this page in line with the changes recently adopted by the American Ornithologist's Union's Committee on Classification and Nomenclature in the 45th supplement to the Checklist of North American Birds (Banks et al. 2004). The 11 previously recognized subspecies of Canada Goose Branta canadensis - canadensis (Atlantic), interior (Interior), maxima (Giant), moffitti (Moffitt's), parvipes (Lesser), fulva (Vancouver), occidentalis (Dusky), hutchinsii (Richardson's), leucopareia (Aleutian), taverneri (Taverner's) and minima (Cackling) - are now partitioned between two species, Canada Goose B. canadensis and Cackling Goose B. hutchinsii, as follows:

Canada Goose B. canadensis: canadensis (Atlantic), interior (Interior), maxima (Giant), moffitti (Moffitt's), parvipes (Lesser), fulva (Vancouver) and occidentalis (Dusky)

Cackling Goose B. hutchinsii: hutchinsii (Richardson's), leucopareia (Aleutian), taverneri (Taverner's) and minima (Cackling)

For further information on these various forms, see this useful summary on Angus Wilson's website.  Separation of the "Canada" goose forms into two species represents a useful step forward in understanding the relationships between these various taxa, but selection of the name "Cackling Goose" for B. hutchinsii seems like a poor choice given that this name was previously used only for minima. I have therefore opted to continue using the common names mentioned above for the various taxa, reserving "Cackling Goose" specifically for minima.

Banks, R. C., C. Cicero, J. L. Dunn, A. W. Kratter, P. C. Rasmussen, J. V. Remsen, J. D. Rising, D. F. Stotz. 2004. Forty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk 121:985-995


1. Aleutian Geese Branta hutchinsii leucopareia, with Tundra Swan Cygnus columbianus, Point Arena, Mendocino, California, USA, January 19, 2003.  Note the small size of these geese in relation to the swan, their compact, short-necked shape and the variation in the extent of the white forecollar.

2. Aleutian Geese B. h. leucopareia, with Tundra Swan C. columbianus, Point Arena, Mendocino, California, USA, January 19, 2003.  These birds were part of a flock of 50 or so Aleutian Geese feeding in flooded fields just to the north of Point Arena.

© Stephen J. Davies

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