Friday, August 09, 2002

Goose Hybrid on the Shenandoah River

I stopped by the Shenandoah River yesterday evening after work to look for the Tricolored Heron that has been hanging out ther. I didn't locate the heron, but while scanning a flock of 57 Canada Geese, one bird stood out: an apparent Canada x Graylag goose hybrid. The head and neck were dark chocolate brown, the feathers of the lower neck gradually fading to light gray on the breast, and to white on the belly. The back and dorsal surface of the wings were mottled dark gray, as in a typical Canada Goose. The bill was pink and appeared somewhat stouter compared to the Canadas. The legs were also pink. Contrasting with the dark chocolate-brown of the head and neck was a dirty-white cheek patch, which wasn't as extensive as that of a Canada Goose. Also in contrast with the dark head were three small patches of white feathers at the base of the bill (one at the top of the bill and one on each side), a feature which is apparently not unusual in the Graylag Goose. The Graylag is the ancestor of the common barnyard goose.

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