Wild Geese

Richardson Geese

Richardson Geese Details

Branta hutchinsii hutchinsii

The Richardson Goose, sometimes referred to as the Hutchin's Canadagoose, is of the Canada goose style, with a fawnish-brown body, black head and neck, and white cheek patches. Richardson Geese are a subspecies of the newly separated species, Cackling Geese.

Richardson Geese, like all Cackling Geese, tend to be bit smaller than the regular Canada Geese we see throughout the U.S. Richardson Geese are one of the smallest subspecies and tend to be a bit stubbier in appearance with a short bill and legs. The white patch on Richardson Geese has been described as duller, and the chest is also darker and more mottled in color. Richardson Geese also tend to have a light white ring where their black necks meets the tawny body.

Range: Richardson Geese are native to North America, found mostly in Canada, but they do migrate down to the Great Plains in winter.

Habitat: Richardson Geese are very adaptable, seeming only to require a decently-sized body of water. Pairs find nesting locations near ponds, lakes, marshes, etc. during breeding season, and in winter, populations gather together into large, gregarious flocks.

Status in the Wild: Cackling Geese are quite common in the wild, but true pure-bred Richardson Geese are less common although that could be due to identification difficulties.

Status in Aviculture: The smaller size and hardiness of the Richardson Goose makes it a very popular wild goose to keep in aviaries and enclosures.

Breeding: Like most species of goose, Richardson Geese do mate for life and form strong bonds starting in their second year. Breeding usually starts in April in the second or third year with nest sites always being chosen near water. This is mainly for easy escape and safety. The nests are also usually positioned with good site distance so the watchful pair can have plenty of time to react to a threat. Usually nests are constructed of dry vegetation, twigs, straw, and feathers. Clutches are usually 4-6 eggs, but can sometimes be over 10. Incubation is by the female with the male standing guard, and the eggs hatch after 24-30 days. The goslings can leave the nest and start foraging on their own in 24 hours.

Lifespan: Richardson Geese in the wild have a shorter lifespan, of 10-24 years, however in captivity and with good husbandry, they have been known to live over 30 years old.

Size: Richardson Geese are smaller in size that most of the other strains and species of Canada-style goose; they usually weigh between 3.5 and 6.75 pounds.

Housing Requirements: Wild geese need a body of water to swim and forage in as well as breed in and near. Note that these geese can also fly if not pinioned, so an enclosure may be necessary to keep them from flying away. Depending on the predators in your area, your geese may also need an enclosure as protection.

Diet: Richardson Geese are very efficient foragers. They are mainly vegetarian and eat mostly grasses and plant matter both in pasture and meadow environments and in the water. Their foraging diet can be supplemented when vegetation is scarce in the winter with a waterfowl or game bird feed.

Miscellaneous Notes: Ornithologists and other serious birders have started referring to the broad range of Canada-like type of geese as White Cheeked Geese to help emphasize the differences in species and populations.


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Richardson Geese

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