Anser leucopsis

Status: No accepted records.

Taxonomy: No subspecies recognized.

Comments: Barnacle Goose, like Pink-footed Goose, is experiencing a dramatic population increase and its status in North America reflects this; unlike Pink-footed Goose however, Barnacle Goose is popular in collections, which presents a challenge to Records Committees attempting to determine provenance (Howell et al 2014). A case for occurrence of wild birds reaching the interior United States was made by Mlodinow and O’Brien (1996). Barnacle Goose is casual Oct-Apr in the northeastern United States, with reports south to Colorado, Texas, and the Gulf Coast, and, while many may be escaped birds, there are banding recoveries of European birds, including one banded in Islay, Scotland, Nov 2004 as a juvenile that was shot by a hunter in eastern Ontario, Canada in fall 2005 (Ron Pittaway, Jean Iron, Post to ID-Frontiers). A genetic study on about 1000 white-cheeked goose tail fans conducted in Canada to determine if DNA analysis could be used to track these species for hunting control purposes found that two Cackling Goose tails had Barnacle Goose mitochondrial DNA (Jim Leafloor, Steve Mlodinow, pers. comm.). Dr. Leafloor noted that this may have resulted from an escaped Barnacle Goose, but also a wild bird living with Cackling Geese in the high arctic.

There are numerous records westward through the Great Lakes, including several in Wisconsin and Illinois (eBird.org); The Arkansas Rare Birds Committee recently accepted that state’s first record, a bird in central Arkansas 27 Dec 2010 (eBird.org, accessed November 2017). There are two accepted records for Colorado, 9 Jan 2018 in Arapahoe Co and 6 Jan 2019 in Weld Co (Colorado Bird Records Committee, accessed Aug 2020).

There are four or five reports for Nebraska, all during 2 Nov-4 Apr, a period when wild birds may occur. Three of these were not accepted by NOURC based on unknown provenance: one at a sandpit pond south of the Odessa bridge in Phelps Co 9 Mar 1995 (Gubanyi 1996), another with small Canada Geese at Massie WPA, Clay Co 28 Mar-4 Apr 1998 (Brogie 1999), and a group of three distantly photographed in Colfax Co Apr 2014 (Brogie 2015). The Massie WPA report was possibly the same bird as was present at Harvard WPA, Clay Co 9 May 1998 (Jorgensen 2012).

The other report was not examined by NOURC, but provenance is also in question: a mounted specimen (photograph above) was shot from a flock of about 40 “Hutch” Canada Geese (now known as Cackling Goose, Branta hutchinsii) 2 Nov 1968 in Otoe Co (Cortelyou 1969). Recently, however, it has been determined that this 1968 mounted specimen is most likely a hybrid (see Species account for Barnacle Goose X Cackling Goose).


NOURC: Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee
WPA: Waterfowl Production Area (Federal)

Literature Cited

Brogie, M.A. 1999. 1998 (Tenth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 67: 141-152.

Brogie, M.A. 2015. 2014 (26th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 83: 125-138.

Colorado Bird Records Committee. https://cobrc.org/Reports/AdHoc.aspx.

Cortelyou, R.G. 1969. Barnacle Goose taken in Nebraska. NBR 37: 2-3.

Gubanyi, J.G. 1996. 1995 (Seventh) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 64: 132-138.

Howell, S.N.G., I. Lewington, and W. Russell. 2014. Rare birds of North America. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, USA.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2012. Birds of the Rainwater Basin, Nebraska. Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Mlodinow, S.G., and M. O’Brien. 1996. America’s 100 most wanted birds. Falcon Press, Helena, Montana, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2020.  Barnacle Goose (Anser leucopsis). In Birds of Nebraska — Online. www.BirdsofNebraska.org

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 3 Aug 2020