Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Neck-collared Geese

Wednesday is Lunch with the birds time for me again at Jackson Bottom Wetlands. Today, highlights included a Bald Eagle chasing a Cackling Goose, a quick fly-by Merlin, and a flock of Dusky Canada Geese.

Dusky Canada Geese are not as big as the Western Canada Geese that are resident at the local ponds and raise their goslings here locally in the Pacific Northwest. But the Duskies are still about 2/3 larger than the Cackling Geese that are here by the thousands now.

Dusky Canada Geese are a dark-breasted population that nest on the Copper River delta in Alaska. The 1964 Alaska earth quake raised their swampy river delta 6 feet. Now Arctic Foxes and other predators could reach any nesting area that remained. Thus, the US Fish and Wildlife service set up 3 refuges for these birds in the 1970's in the Willamette Valley: Ankeny NWR, Finley NWR, and Baskett Slough NWR. Numbers of these geese have rebounded, but they are still not legal to hunt.

Several of the Dusky Canada Geese had red plastic neck collars with white numbers and letters written on them. [Cackling Geese have yellow neck collars; Western Canada Geese have blue or white neck collars.] I was able to make out the numbers on four birds, though they were quite distant, hidden behind the willows, it was a bit hazy today, and the eagle was stirring things up. Have I made enough excuses for the bad digiscoped photo to accompany this post?

You need a good spotting scope, and practice reading the stylized lettering, but finding flocks of geese or swans with neck collars and then submitting them can be quite fun. I filled out the web form for reporting the 4 neck collars (6NV, 7 JP, 7VF, 84C) at the bird banding laboratory on the USGS page.

In a few days I expect to hear back from the researcher working on these birds. I'll receive a thank you acknowledgement and learn something about where these birds were banded and how old they are. I'll write another post when I find out.