Hi All,

The history of Barnacle Geese in northeastern North America reveals an 
array of plausible wild occurrences and likely escapes (some well 
documented). At present, according to a recent Connecticut Avian Records 
Committee report, Barnacle Goose populations have been increasing in 
Greenland and the captive population has been declining so it seems 
likely that many, even most, late September to mid-April reports involve 
birds of wild origin. However, Barnacle Goose is still present in aviary 
collections, and there have been recent sightings on off-color dates. 
These include a bird in Machias, Maine from July to September 2004, and 
11 August 1997 from Essex, Connecticut.

I am enough of a birding graybeard to remember an infamous 16-year-old 
record of an escaped pair of Barnacle Geese that produced four offspring 
and split the winter of 1990 to 1991 at Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia 
and Osterville, Massachusetts. These birds were traced to a summer 1990 
release at Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. Such a record puts one off 
implicit trust for subsequent observations for quite a long time.

For what it's worth, recent treatment of Barnacle Goose reports has been 
fairly gentle by regional records committees. Connecticut still uses a 
tag of "origin uncertain", an improvement over "not accepted due to 
questionable origin", and the Massachusetts committee has accepted most 
reports over their last three reports.

The Vernon/Hinsdale goose has both of its hind toes, no avicultural 
bands, and has been seen in a flock of geese with another tundra nesting 
species, Cackling Goose. The recent occurrence of five Greenland Greater 
White-fronted Geese touring the Connecticut valley from Northfield, 
Massachusetts to Charlestown, New Hampshire also is suggestive of the 
destination of some of the geese passing through the region over the 
last two weeks. There's a pretty good chance this bird is wild, 
unfortunately there is always room for skepticism. However, it may take 
a while for records committees to become comfortable with Common and 
Ruddy Shelducks, Red-crested Pochards, and, especially, Greylags (even 
putative wild-types).

Good Birding,

Walter Ellison & Nancy Martin

23460 Clarissa Rd
Chestertown, MD 21620

phone: 410-778-9568

e-mail: rossgull(AT)

"Nothing is as easy as you would like it to be, and nothing is as hard 
as you might fear"