- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Natural enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Impact Summary
- Economic Impact
- Environmental Impact
- Social Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Branta hutchinsii (Richardson, 1832)
Other Scientific Names
- Branta canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758)
International Common Names
- English: cackling Canada goose; cackling goose; lesser Canada goose
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
B. hutchinsii has been introduced to several countries but has not yet been recorded forming breeding populations that are separate from those of B. canadensis in the same areas.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Aves
- Order: Anseriformes
- Family: Anatidae
- Genus: Branta
- Species: Branta hutchinsii
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
The split is observed here. As far as possible, this account refers only to the species hutchinsii, although much of the literature from which it is drawn treats canadensis and hutchinsii together under canadensis.
DescriptionTop of page
B. hutchinsii are very similar to B. canadensis races in plumage pattern but occupy the small and dark end of the range of variation. Like that species they have a dark brown body, a black head and neck and a white chin-patch. Many B. hutchinsii have a white mark or line between the black neck and the brown breast, as do some B. canadensis. The bill of B. hutchinsii is proportionately shorter than that of B. canadensis, as is the neck. Calls are higher-pitched and the race minima in particular sounds ‘cackling’. For further details, see for example Sibley (2004).
DistributionTop of page
There is no systematic information on where B. hutchinsii are held in captivity. Partly in consequence, information is likely to be poor also on where isolated escapes or releases have occurred. Since the split from B. canadensis is so recent, it is likely that occurrences of B. hutchinsii are not yet being fully reported.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Japan||Absent, formerly present||Native||Banks et al., 2004||Native wintering population is extinct|
|-Hokkaido||Absent, formerly present||Native||Banks et al., 2004||Native wintering population extinct|
|-Honshu||Absent, formerly present||Native||Banks et al., 2004||Native wintering population extinct|
|-British Columbia||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|-Northwest Territories||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|-Yukon Territory||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|Greenland||Localised||Native||Fox et al., 1996|
|-Florida||Present, few occurrences||Native||Banks et al., 2004|
|-Hawaii||Present, few occurrences||Native||Banks et al., 2004|
|-Maine||Present, few occurrences||Native||Banks et al., 2004|
|-New Jersey||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|-North Carolina||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|-North Dakota||Localised||Native||Abraham, 2005|
|-South Carolina||Present, few occurrences||Native|
|-Utah||Present, few occurrences||Native||Stackhouse, 2004|
|Iceland||Present, few occurrences||Native||Not invasive||NOBANIS, 2008|
|Ireland||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Not invasive||Cramp and Simmons, 1977||Potential occurence of vagrants from native range is awaiting ratification|
|Netherlands||Localised||Introduced||Voslamber et al., 2007||@ 200 pairs in 2005|
|-Russian Far East||Absent, formerly present||Native||Not invasive||Banks et al., 2004||Breeding population of Commander and Kuril Islands (race asiatica) is extinct|
|Svalbard and Jan Mayen||Present, few occurrences||Native||Not invasive||NOBANIS, 2008|
|UK||Present, few occurrences||Introduced||Banks et al., 2008||Potential occurence of vagrants from native range is awaiting ratification|
|Marshall Islands||Present, few occurrences||Native||Not invasive||BirdLife International, 2009|
|New Zealand||Absent, formerly present||Introduced||1920||Not invasive||Lever, 2005||Probably taverneri|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
A number of Canada goose races are likely to have been introduced to the UK and elsewhere in Europe, where they have intermixed freely. During the 1980s it is reported that 40 small-race birds were released in Britain (Blair et al., 2000), presumably attributable to the presently defined B. hutchinsii.
IntroductionsTop of page
|Introduced to||Introduced from||Year||Reason||Introduced by||Established in wild through||References||Notes|
|Natural reproduction||Continuous restocking|
|Ireland||Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause)||No||Occurences may all relate to vagrants from native range|
|Netherlands||Yes||Banks et al. (2008)|
|New Zealand||1920||No||Long (1981)|
|UK||Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause)||No||Blair et al. (2000)||Some occurences are probably of vagrants from native range|
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
The risk of introduction of this species is unclear. In areas where B. canadensis is already present, it is perhaps likely that mixed pairing would occur with that species. This would be a conservation issue in areas where B. hutchinsii would interbreed with native B. canadensis.
HabitatTop of page
Whereas flocks of B. canadensis may damage plants by overgrazing or trampling, it is perhaps less likely that B. hutchinsii, being smaller, less abundant and more tied to natural habitats, would cause significant damage
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial – Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Managed grasslands (grazing systems)||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Urban / peri-urban areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Terrestrial ‑ Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Cold lands / tundra||Principal habitat||Natural|
|Irrigation channels||Secondary/tolerated habitat||Natural|
|Rivers / streams||Principal habitat||Natural|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
The wide variability in size and plumage within the Canada/cackling species group is likely to have some genetic basis as well as environmental causes, but it is insufficient to prevent the remixing of the races where they are brought into contact by translocations and introductions.
ClimateTop of page
|Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year|
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
|Ds - Continental climate with dry summer||Preferred||Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)|
|ET - Tundra climate||Preferred||Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Alopex lagopus||Predator||not specific|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Impact SummaryTop of page
|Cultural/amenity||Positive and negative|
Economic ImpactTop of page
Whereas B. canadensis can have severe economic impacts through air strikes and agricultural damage, the smaller and less numerous B. hutchinsii is likely to have much lower impacts in these areas.
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
Introduced B. hutchinsii interbreed readily with other races of their own species and with B. canadensis, and so could have significant impact on biodiversity when introduced within the native ranges of these species in North America.
Social ImpactTop of page
It is possible that B. hutchinsii may have some social impact through fouling or disease transmission, but no such impacts have yet been clearly identified.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Invasiveness
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
- Highly mobile locally
- Long lived
- Has high reproductive potential
- Has high genetic variability
- Negatively impacts agriculture
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
- Highly likely to be transported internationally illegally
- Difficult to identify/detect in the field
UsesTop of page
B. hutchinsii is hunted along its migration flyways and in its wintering grounds in North America.
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Distinguishing B. canadensis from B. hutchinsii and potential hybrids with that species is complex and difficult, given the wide range of variation in the size and plumage tones of both species (Wilson, 2003; Sibley, 2004).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Most European countries and North American states and provinces have laws intended to control trade in non-native species and the circumstances in which they can be released. These should cover non-native geese, but may either exclude translocations within a country or trading zone, or be difficult or impossible to enforce where no import/export controls apply.
There is clearly a need for increasing public awareness of the dangers of introducing non-native geese to new areas and of translocating them within areas where they already occur.
Gaps in Knowledge/Research NeedsTop of page
Further and more detailed information is needed on the impacts of B. hutchinsii, to strengthen the case for control measures and to discourage further introductions and translocations.
ReferencesTop of page
Banks AN; Wright LJ; Maclean IMD; Hann C; Rehfisch MM, 2008. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 489.]
Banks RC; Cicero C; Dunn JL; Kratter AW; Rasmussen PC; Remsen Jr JV; Rising JD; Stotz DF, 2004. Forty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk, 121:985-995.
BirdLife International, 2009. Species factsheet: Branta hutchinsii. Species factsheet: Branta hutchinsii. unpaginated. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=32141&m=0
Blair MJ; McKay H; Musgrove AJ; Rehfisch MM, 2000. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the agreement area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 229.]
Wilson A, 2003. Identification and range of Canada goose (Branta canadensis) subspecies. Identification and range of Canada goose (Branta canadensis) subspecies. unpaginated. http://www.oceanwanderers.com/CAGO.Subspecies.html
OrganizationsTop of page
World: BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge, CB3 0NA, UK, http://www.birdlife.org
ContributorsTop of page
31/08/09 Original text by:
John Marchant, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK
Distribution MapsTop of page
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