Cackling Goose

Branta hutchinsii




Ducks, Geese and Swans (Anatidae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

White, nest stained.

Number of Eggs:

2 - 8

Incubation Days:

25 - 30

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

Nest is slightly elevated near water.

Nest Material:

Sticks, grass, weeds, and moss lined with down.





Cackling Goose: Formerly part of the Canada Goose family, this smaller goose with a rounder head has dark gray-brown upperparts and paler underparts fading to white on vent. Head and neck are black with white chin bar. The breast feathers are light tan to brown. Their back is brown. Their bill is small and triangular. Of the four races the Leucopareia and Hutchinsii have a white band at the bottom of the black neck, however the collars are highly variable, and they're not a reliable field mark when trying to separate Cacklers from Canadas. Sexes are similar. It eats a variety of plant species and parts, especially grasses, sedges, grain and berries. Strong deep wing beats. Sexes are similar; the male is larger.

Range and Habitat

Cackling Goose: Native to North America. Breeds in coastal areas of northern Canada and western Alaska to Baffin Island in a variety of tundra habitats. Winters from British Columbia south to California, northern Mexico. Also winters in large parts of the Midwest and Great Plains from eastern Colorado and New Mexico east to Illinois.

Breeding and Nesting

Cackling Goose: Breeding occurs from April to June. The nest is placed in grass, on a slightly elevated location. Two to eight white nest-stained eggs are laid in a nest near the water. The female builds the nest with sticks, grass, weeds and moss lined with down. It is sometimes built on rocky cliffs. Incubation is done by the female for 25 to 30 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Cackling Goose: These geese are primarily herbivores. They forage primarily on grasses, sedges and berries. They also feed on agricultural crops including wheat, alfalfa, barley, beans, rice and corn. Sometimes they tip like puddle ducks when feeding on aquatic plants such as wild celery, sea lettuce and sago pondweed.


Cackling Goose: Call is a loud honking or a high-pitched, squeaking cackle.

Similar Species

Cackling Goose: Canada Goose is larger, head is larger, sloped, and bill is longer.


Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
The upper front part of a bird.
The area of the face just below the bill.
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X