Sunday, March 6, 2011

Canada Goose - Neck Bands

This past Friday I saw these Canada Geese with bright red neck collars at RNWR. I have gotten pretty good (I think) at separating out the Canada from the Cackling Geese, but I haven't really tried to determine the subspecies of each of these species. These Canada Geese, however, seem to be good candidates for a Dusky Canada Goose subspecies based on their dark breasts (notice the difference in breast coloration of the lead bird on the left in the top image with the rest).
One of the great things about finding birds with bands, in addition to finding out some of its history, is that you can find out its subspecies if one exists. So I have submitted these neck band codes to the USGS and will find out if my ID is correct. I was able to make out seven band codes by searching through the 62 images I took of the birds.
I had another experience with neck collars this past December when I came across some banded Tundra Swans, again at RNWR. I submitted three codes and received certificates with the banding information in about a week.
As you can see, two of the Swans were banded by Ms. Susan Savage on 7/20/2009 in Alaska, while the other was banded by Ms. Kristine M. Sowl on 7/26/2007 in a different part of Alaska. The thing that jumped out at me when I received these certificates, was that the Swans were identified as Whistling Swans. At the time, Tundra Swans were new to me and I was trying to pick out a Trumpeter Swan amongst all the Tundras. I didn't realize that Tundra Swans are composed of two subspecies; the Whistling Swan and the Bewick's Swan. Bewick's typically can be identified by a large amount of yellow on the upper part of their bill, but there are variances that can make positive identification tricky.


  1. Check out the second paragraph of page nine. It talks about neck collar colors. You may find it interesting.


  2. Very interesting post regarding the goose bands and certificates. I didn't realize that data was available to the general public. Great blog!

  3. Why doesn't anyone care that these birds have to live with these huge bands around their necks and cant bend their necks well or be comfortable... Just for some paper records, ridiculous.