Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Duck, Duck, Goose (and Turkey and Chicken too!) - Greater White-fronted Geese?

What better day than to turn our thoughts to all of the fowl that have given up their lives for our pleasure at the Thanksgiving Table - geese, turkeys, ducks and chickens.  All of the photos on today's post are actually of wild birds - believe it or not.

Are these Greater White-fronted Geese or Graylag (barnyard) Geese? North Pond, Lincoln Park, Chicago; 10-3-10.

A closer look at this goose - the white-tipped tail and the white patch at the base of its bill suggests a Greater White-fronted Goose, North Pond, Lincoln Park, Chicago; 10-3-10.
I'll start with a trio of handsome geese that Val and I saw on the North Pond, while visiting Lincoln Park in Chicago.  When I first saw these birds (Above) I thought they were Greater White-fronted Geese (GWFG), but upon research I found that they would be on edge of the farthest eastern fringe of their migration route.  As I noted in the caption of the 2nd photo above, they seemed to fit the description of a GWFG, but as I researched photos of both the GWFG and the Graylag Goose - they are both so close in appearance - I became more and more inconclusive. According Sibley's Field Guide to North American Birds, the Graylag is more common in farm ponds and city parks (Lincoln Park, North Pond, hmmm...) and some also sport a small white patch at the base of their bills, and some had white-tipped tails and some didn't.  The Graylag is a bit bigger (6" longer than the GWFG), but without both of them being next to each other I would not be able to tell its size. Are there any bird experts out there that can help me with the identification? Let me know. Regardless of what species they were, they certainly were photogenic.

Another goose that I had trouble ID'ing earlier this spring was a pure white goose (Above). While hiking around the lake at Bauman Park, there were the usual abundant flocks of Canada Geese, but in the midst of one small flock was this pure white goose, which upon my investigation and creeping slowly closer, it became very defensive and protective of its goslings; whereas the adult Canada Geese within the same flock ignored me. I hoped the white goose was a Snow Goose. It had the wrinkly feathers on its neck and its trademark "grin," a small dark section of its bill which makes it look like it's smirking or grinning. But it lacked the black tipped wing and it's highly unusual that a Snow Goose would be flocking with Canadas. However, it is not unusual for an escaped white domestic goose to travel with and mate with Canadas. I have seen that before, and this white goose was definitely the mother of the goslings which appeared to have Canada markings but with some unusual white markings.  (Below) is definitely a domestic white goose that was swimming in Saguaro Lake near Phoenix AZ.

The setting of this white goose was very eye-catching as it contrasted with the black reflection of the bridge swirling together with the pure blue water, Saguaro Lake, Phoenix, AZ; 10/27/07.
Canada Geese are the most common and abundant of all geese in North America. Below are a few of my favorite photos of the Canadas:

A lone Canada Goose rests in the sunset lit lake at Bauman Park. Just before I snapped the picture, it moved enough to create the rings that was caught by the sunlight , Rockford IL; 5/14/10.

I loved how the heads of these goslings glowed in the morning sunlight, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/18/08.

Val captured these two adult Canadas with a brood of over 20 goslings (you can't see all of them in the photo) as they swam towards us in the Seney Wildlife Refuge, Upper Peninsula Michigan; 5/27/07.

Val took this fantastic shot of a flock of Canadas flying past a full moon at Bauman Park, Rockford, IL; Oct., 2007.
Other than Canada Geese, another very abundant waterfowl species are the Mallard Ducks. Mallards are found coast to coast year round, and travel all the way to the northern reaches of Alaska and Canada in the summer months and all the way south into Mexico during the winter months. below are some of my favorite Mallard pics:
One evening while hiking around Pierce Lake in Rock Cut State Park, I captured these Mallards silhouetted against the sunset reflecting in the lake. Because of the landscape orientation of the photo and that Mallards are so common around here, I ended up choosing this photo as my Logo for this blog, Rockford; 6/15/07.

A Mallard doing a balancing act on a rock in a pond at Anderson Gardens. I loved how the green trees reflecting in the pond created a perfect background for the Mallard to "pop out" as the focal point in this composition. Rockford, IL; 6/16/08.

The duck in this photo had me perplexed for a year as I couldn't find any pictures to help me with its ID. However my friends at informed me that this most likely the result of a Mallard mating with another duck species. The offspring is known as a "Manky Mallard," a name coined by Charles who is the forum leader at his website ; Photo taken in Phoenix, AZ, 12/29/09.
Well, one can't highlight birds on Thanksgiving Day without the mention of the Turkey. (Below) is a reprise of a Wild Turkey photo that I posted on one of my earliest posts (6/24/10) on this blog.

This Wild Turkey gobbled at me while I was riding my bike in Rock Cut State Park early one morning. I loved how the rising sun backlit its red wattle and tail feathers; Rockford, IL; 5/23/10.
My last photo is of a bird that you may be surprised is wild. In the summer of 2008, while val and I were in Hawaii, we noticed a lot of chickens roaming about, and roosters crowing at all times of the day, including in the middle of the night.  I wondered why the locals allowed their chickens to run free. Val was fascinated over these chickens and took several photos.  Me - being a sensible Midwestern boy, born and raised around farms which had many chickens, I just didn't see them as an interesting item - especially since we were in Hawaii. One day while perusing a book about Wild Birds of the Hawaiian Islands, it had included these chickens and they were called Wild Jungle Fowl (Below). Apparently they are descendants of many generations of domesticated chickens that escaped their pens during typhoons, cyclones, and other storms.

Val took this photo from a safe distance of a Wild Jungle Fowl terrorizing the island of Oahu, Hawaii; 6/8/08.
Happy Thanksgiving! And remember, whatever fowl you may be serving this year at your Thanksgiving table, it is most likely a distance relative of one of the fine birds that I have highlighted in this post. Give it its proper respect before devouring it. I have heard of a "Turducken," but what about a "Turdugoosken?"

1 comment:

~Val said...

The goose at sunset is gorgeous. I don't think I've seen that photo before.

I really enjoyed the narrative in this post. Happy Thanksgiving!!