• Barnacle Goose

    Common NameBarnacle Goose
    Scientific NameBranta leucopsis
    Type of ReportRare Species
    Date of Observation03/26/2017
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    • Other Documentation of Observation
    Number Observed1
    Reporting Observer's NameTheodore Murin
    Mailing Address77 Overlook Drive
    South Burlington, VT 05403
    United States
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    EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
    Date Completed03/27/2017
    Names & Emails of Other Contributing Observers

    Qing Ren, South Burlington, VT

    Relocated on 3/27/17 by Eddy Edwards and photographed by Richard Lavallee. Dick's 3/27/17 photos are attached.

    Latitude of Observation45.007
    Longitude of Observation-73.338
    Place NameRouses Point bridge, Lake Champlain
    CountyGrand Isle
    Time of Day02:25 PM
    Length of Time Observedabout 5 minutes; seen and photographed by several other observers on 3/27/17, see notes
    Maximum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)2000
    Minimum Estimated Distance from Bird (in feet)2000
    Noteworthy Weather Conditions

    Light overcast, 5 mph north wind, 39 degrees Fahrenheit air temp, ~34 degrees Fahrenheit water temp, thus virtually no atmospheric distortion at this distance.

    Optical Equipment Used for Observation

    Nikon 20-45x 60mm spotting scope and a Celestron 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope with Celestron 18mm X-Cel LX eyepiece (effective 113x magnification) mounted on a custom platform, Manfrotto 3066 video head, and Manfrotto 132XB heavy duty tripod.

    Observer’s Previous Acquaintance With This or Similar Species

    Have only seen a handful of Barnacle Geese, although consider identification of this species fairly straightforward.

    I certify that that attachments included with this report were captured during this observation event​​.
    Description of Habitat

    Lake Champlain. The lake here was roughly two-thirds open and one-third frozen. This bird was closely associating with roughly 500 Canada Geese leisurely swimming around near the ice edge. There were about another 500 Canada Geese scattered to the west, roughly 2000 Canada Geese and several thousand Snow Geese about two miles north in Canada. There also scattered Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye in the general vicinity.

    Behaviors Observed

    Bird peacefully swam around with large flock of Canada Geese in fairly close quarters; no interactions were observed. After diverting our eyes to a phone for about a minute to get the news out, we could not relocate the bird. Like several birds around it, the bird was last seen facing east with its neck stretched. Geese were departing in groups of 10-30 heading east at low altitude presumably to feed in farm fields. We suspected this bird also headed in that direction.

    Description of Vocalizations

    none heard at this distance

    Verbal Narrative & Description of Observation

    Sifting through large flocks of Canada Geese, happened upon this smaller, shorter-necked goose. Dramatic pattern was immediately recognizable - white face, black cap, lores, nape, neck and breast; dark eyes, dark short bill, light gray/near white side, black and gray barred back and coverts with barring increasing in width toward tail; white undertail.

    Relative Size & Shape

    Standard goose shape with bulky body, longish neck (though on short end of scale for geese), roundish head and small goose bill. Bird was noticeably smaller than surrounding Canada Geese - presumably Branta canadensis canadensis.


    White face surrounded by black crown, nape and neck. Dark eyes, black lores. Short black bill.

    Feet & Bill

    feet and legs not seen - underwater

    Upper Back

    black and gray barred

    Lower Back & Rump

    not seen


    not seen unfurled; coverts and scapulars barred gray, very light gray and black (majority gray) with barring intervals widening toward tail; tertials gray; black primary tips showing

    Breast, Belly, Flanks, Under Tail Coverts

    sharply defined breast black, sides and flanks very light gray, undertail white


    presumably black and short since didn't note from primaries

    IMPORTANT: What similar species were eliminated when making the identification and how was this bird different?

    Unique plumage (consisting of white face, black cap, black neck, black breast, gray and black barring on upper side, light gray sides) distinguishes from most other species. Barred black and gray back, black bill and lores, and light gray sides distinguish from dark morph Ross's Goose. There were no unexpected features to consider hybridization.

    Other Notes & Comments

    Photos uploaded with this report were taken by Richard Lavallee on 3/27/17 of presumably the same bird. Bird unfortunately skedaddled before we broke out photo equipment on 3/26/17. Presumably the same bird was found in the same location around 7:15 a.m. the following day (3/27/17) by Eddy Edwards. The bird relocated to a farm field roughly 3/4 mile to the east-southeast. It was photographed on 3/27/17 by Eddy Edwards and Richard Lavallee, and seen by Zac Cota, Jim Mead and Henry Trombley.

    This report was written from notes taken:Immediately After

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