A Goose Of A Different Feather

In an effort to escape the construction mess at my home I visited a local pond yesterday morning to see if I could find any interesting birds to photograph. That time of day I had to walk to the far side of the pond to get an acceptable light angle so I was shooting with a tripod instead of from my pickup. The temps were in the low 20’s and there was a frigid breeze so within about 40 minutes my hands were frozen to the point that they literally wouldn’t function so I had to give up.

But I did come home with several nice shots of Canada Geese in flight and some images of a very interesting goose hybrid.

 

canada-goose-2183-ron-dudley

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

This is probably my favorite image from that short session. I like the slight head turn toward me with good eye contact, the fanned tail, the even light on the bird and the background. The goose is a little tight in the frame but I can live with that.

 

 

canada-goose-hybrid-1953-ron-dudley

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

But this hybrid goose was the most interesting subject on the pond. I’ve seen it several times in the past week but it’s always been too far away and in poor light but this time it was relatively close and the light was good. I believe it to be a Canada Goose X Snow Goose hybrid but I can’t be sure. I suppose it’s also possible that it’s a cross between a Canada Goose and a Greater White-fronted Goose.

 

 

canada-goose-hybrid-1984-ron-dudley

1/2500, f/6.3, ISO 500, Canon 7D Mark II, Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM + EF 1.4 III Extender, not baited, set up or called in

Here’s a look at more of the bird, including those unusual pinkish legs. The typical Canada Goose in the background provides a fairly good comparison between the two. Even the hybrid’s bill color is different from that of a Canada Goose.

I see hybrid wild ducks fairly often in the field but a hybrid Canada Goose was a new experience for me so I thought it deserved some attention.

And I re-learned a valuable lesson yesterday morning – never, and I do mean never!, forget to carry chemical hand warmers when there’s a possibility that you’ll be shooting from a tripod in the dead of winter. My first stop after I arrived home from the pond and stored my gear was a trip to Walmart (ugh…) to replenish my supply.

Ron

 

 

29 comments to A Goose Of A Different Feather

  • Charlotte Norton

    Great shots Ron! Got you out,good luck warming up.

    Charlotte

  • Hi Ron,

    I have photographed a number of geese hybrids, most commonly Canada Goose x Greater White-fronted and occasionally Canada Goose x Domestic Graylag. I would say there is little chance your bird is either of those. The Greater White-fronted crosses seem to always retain the signature white around their bills. I think Snow Goose is as good of a guess as any. In fact, it looks like there might be a hint of the Snow Goose smile. There is a Canada Goose x Domestic Graylag in the resident Canada Goose flock at a local wetlands I frequently visit. He has been there since December 2009. He always pairs up with a Canada Goose, but I have never seen him with any goslings — perhaps he is sterile.

  • Love the hybrid. And also love that it is so readily accepted by the other birds. Yet again, the ‘superior’ species has a lot to learn.

    • EC, as far as the other birds were concerned they completely seemed to accept it as just another Canada Goose. A wayward Snow Goose on the same pond a few days ago was treated the same way.

    • Laura Culley

      Indeed EC! Would that we would take a couple thousand clues from the wild world! Some of us do, but… Different does not mean bad. It just means different (as in diversity, which is good)!

  • Marty K

    Ain’t genetics grand? The hybrid is so cool. With the way the goose’s bill is open just a bit in the first shot, it looks as if he’s smiling and saying, “Hi Ron! Follow me!” 🙂

    You are a brave man for setting foot in the evil W this close to the 25th! 😉 I use the reusable warmers with the “click-o-disc” to demo exothermic reactions, but it has been a long time since I’ve needed them for their intended purpose. When I was a little kid and we lived in the mountains, my mom used to put baked potatoes in my pockets before I went out to play in the snow. Thanks for triggering a fun memory. Hope today’s trip out to the pond is a fruitful one.

  • Trudy Brooks

    Those are interesting pictures. Even with cold fingers. lol You get a way from the house when under construction, what about the rest of the family? Need to get some sound blocker headsets.

  • Levi V.

    Great shots!
    I think it might be a Canada x Snow goose hybrid, based on the shape of the head…

  • Susan Stone

    Seeing one of my favorite birds made me smile. The hybrid is strange-looking, but I’m glad you were finally able to photograph it. Somehow I’ve never thought about Canada Geese hybridizing, even though I’ve seen lots of hybrid Ducks. The Canada Goose made me smile, but your comment about Walmart (with which I agree totally) made me chuckle. Glad you were able to escape construction for a while, even though you didn’t have hand warmers. Getting out was clearly worth the effort.

  • Laura Culley

    Insert the redundant string of OH WOW! superlatives here.
    What an interesting subject. Being the questioning person I am, however, I gotta ask if it’s possible that this goose is just an individual in the context of the range from leucistic/albino to dark morph/Harlan’s redtails? In other words, is this an individual whose DNA stacked up a little differently than its brethren? However, there’s also the issue that boys and girls do what boys and girls do and hybrids happen. (I could have phrased that better…need coffee!)
    And I hope you stocked up on hand warmers! When you get to where you cannot force your fingers to work, that’s bad. I’m at that point now given the gap in medical care and missing med doses paired with the continuous stresses involved in this ongoing move. It’s amazing how useful hands can be. I remain a proponent for redundancy in our evolutionary journey! Two hands is just NOT sufficient. And of course, feathers and wings remain on my list of evolutionary improvements 🙂

    • “I gotta ask if it’s possible that this goose is just an individual in the context of the range from leucistic/albino to dark morph/Harlan’s redtails?”

      I suppose it’s possible, Laura, but personally I doubt it.

      When I miss that “third hand” most often is when I’m juggling different combinations of cameras, lenses and extenders at the same moment I’m missing wonderful behaviors or poses from my subject…

  • Judy Gusick

    Beautiful shot of the Canada goose! 🙂 The hybrid is fascinating – I’ve never seen one before. 🙂 Hand warmers are essential – also help with batteries in the pocket even if they are a bit of a nuisance. My hands won’t take the cold any more so I’m better about “accommodations” 🙂

  • Patty Chadwick

    Do wild geese ever breed with domestic ones?

  • Dick Harlow

    Great shots and very interesting post!
    Agh yes, hand warmers – been there done that, and still my fingers freeze! For some reason I forget them or can’t find them, or have an aversion to them, or something!
    At any rate I understand!

  • Marlo Casabar

    Nice shots. I like the catch light in the eye of the goose in flight. I giggled when I read your comment, “The goose is a little tight in the frame but I can live with that.” How often do you say that in bird photography?