Wednesday, March 5, 2014

An Illustrated Life List: Canada Goose

A bitter cold walk from somewhere, I don't remember where, in North Minneapolis to my home on the other side of the river.  I crossed along of the Lowry Ave bridge.  This was a few years back before the bridge was rebuilt; when it was a criss cross of old iron girders.  It was the piece that tied two ugly and depressing sides of the river together; giant piles of scrap metal, derelict structures stretching into the river, and dilapidated buildings jumbled together along a forgotten stretch of the Mississippi.  The area has changed a fair amount in the past few years, with redevelopment, new river front parks, and a new bridge (which is pretty cool looking, and lights up).

The bridge usually has some open water under it and attracts Canada Geese, Branta canadensis under it during the winter.  It's also a good spot to find Common Golden-eyes, Bucephela clangula during the winter.  And usually a Greylag Goose, Anser anser - domestic goose.  I'm not sure if it's been the same one, and I don't think I've seen it every year, but it's been there more than one winter, mixed in with the Canada Geese.  The first time I saw it, on the aforementioned cold walk home I got really excited.  I didn't have binoculars and thought it was a rare goose of some sort; a new entry for my life list!  I hurried home, and returned with binoculars, scope and a field guide.  The discovery that it was a domestic goose was disappointing, but only briefly, because their was still the joy of discovery, and in the long run, a place in my neighborhood to bird watch during the winter; I look here for Barrow's Golden-eyes in the winter, so perhaps birding here will eventually yield a new life list entry (though this winter the river did freeze over completely under the bridge, so no geese or ducks).

You might wonder why this post isn't titled "An Illustrated Life List: Greylag Goose".  It's because I didn't add the bird to my list.  Everyone has slightly different criteria for adding birds to their lists, but I believe it's fairly common practice to not add domesticated birds to a life list.  It strongly resembled a wild Greylag Goose, but one has never been recorded in Minnesota, and it's much more likely that it escaped, or is the hybrid offspring of a Canada Goose and a domestic goose on a farm.  I do look here for Barrow's Golden-eyes in the winter, so perhaps birding here will eventually yield a new life list entry.