Taiga Bean-Goose (Anser
Unit One, Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial County, CA
27 November 2010
Photos © 27 November 2010 by Joseph Morlan. All rights reserved. Click for larger images
Robbie Fischer and I arrived about 3:30pm just south of the observation platform at the north end of Vendel Road where we met Guy McCaskie who had already located the Bean Goose. The bird was in a large flock of Snow and Ross's Geese on the east side of the road. We approached along the levee on the west side of the road and eventually got very good views in excellent light. I attempted to digiscope the bird with the result seen here. The camera was a Panasonic DMC-LZ5 hand-held to a Nikon FieldScope 3 with 30X WA eyepiece.
The following description is based on memory and on the photos.
It was a dark goose, decidedly larger than the many Snow Geese and somewhat larger than a single adult Greater White-fronted Goose which was its companion during our observations. The head neck and breast were brown with a grayish cast on the breast. The brown flanks were streaked with dusky and a few paler streaks. The mantle and scapulars were dark brown with crisp light tan edges. Secondaries and tertials were dark brown with crisp white fringes, especially evident on the tertials. Secondaries and greater coverts were narrowly tipped with white. Belly and undertail coverts pure white. Tail dark brown with rectrices narrowly tipped with white. Feet heavy and orange. The bill was the most distinctive feature. It was long with a crisp orange (not yellow) band around the tip of the bill just anterior to the black nail. The orange band extended across the bottom of the mandible. Bill shape appeared very long and tapered. Decidedly longer that the bill of the adjacent Greater White-fronted Goose. Culmen appeared straight in the field, slightly concave in some photos, with a bulge near the tip of the bill.
This is California's first record of this species. It was first found and photographed by a local rancher, Al Kalin on 9 November. In 2007, the AOU split the Bean Goose into two species, Taiga Bean-Goose (Anser fabalis) and Tundra Bean-Goose (Anser serrirostris). The specific identity of this bird is somewhat controversial and continues to be researched. Here I follow the opinion of Mariko Parslow-Otsu below and agree that the bird is identifiable as a Taiga Bean-Goose.
Banks et al. (2007) considered Tundra Bean-Goose to be "accidental in Alaska in the Aleutian Islands (Amchitka), Pribilofs (St. Paul Island), and St. Lawrence Island (Palmer 1976), and in Quebec (Cap-Tourmente; Amer. Birds 37: 158-160, 1983); also reported from Whitehorse, Yukon (Eckert 2000)....Identification of the Quebec record to the subspecies rossicus, included in serrirostris, was based on measurements of a bird shot by a hunter (Amer. Birds 37:159, 1983)." However, Gibson et al (2008) regard Tundra Bean-Goose to be regular in the Western Aleutians with additional specimen records from the Pribilofs and St. Lawrence Island.
According to Banks et al. (2007), Taiga Bean-Goose is "accidental in Alaska in the Pribilof Islands (specimen, St. Paul Island; reported as A. f. sibiricus, now = middendorffii, by Gabrielson and Lincoln 1959). Birds seen at the Iowa-Nebraska border (Amer. Birds 39:172, 182, 1985), at Cap-Tourmente, Quebec (Amer. Birds 42:46, 1988), Phelps County [Funk Lagoon], Nebraska (Field Notes 52:350, 1998), and Hoquiam, Washington (Mlodinow 2004) were believed to be of the subspecies A. f. middendorffii." Pranty et al. (2008) admitted two records of Taiga Bean-Goose from Alaska, a 1946 specimen from St. Paul on the Pribilofs in April 1946 and three birds photographed on Shemya in the winter of 2007-2008. "Many other Alaska reports of Bean Goose cannot be assigned to species."
Martin Garner has posted excellent photos by Ken Kurland taken 16 November and by Larry Sansone taken 17 November, and provided additional analysis and expert opinion as follows:
Detailed analysis by Mariko Parslow-Otsu - added 13 January 2011.
Mariko Parslow is a world authority on Bean Geese having studied them both in Europe and Japan, and coauthor of the paper by Masayuki cited below. Her analysis identifying this bird as a Taiga Bean-Goose (A. f. middendorffii) is here.
Additional Photos (external links)
Banks, R.C. et al. 2007. Forty-eighth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list
of North American Birds. Auk 124:11109-1115. (PDF)
Brown, D. 2010. Identification and taxonomy of bean geese. Birding World 23(3):110-121.
Eckert, C.D. 2000. Bean Goose a Yukon first at Whitehorse. Birders Journal 8(6):305-309 (PDF)
Gibson, D.D. et al. 2008. Report of the Alaska Checklist Committee, 2003-2007. Western Birds 39:189-201.
Heinicke, T. & Koffijberg, K. 2010. Speciale workshop determinatie rietganzen (Online) - added 13 January 2011.
Masayuki, K. et al. 1983. Notes on the Field Identification of Anser fabalis serrirostris and A. f. middendorfi. Tori 32:95-108. (PDF) - added 13 January 2011.
Mlodinow, S.G. 2004. Bean Goose Anser fabalis at Hoquiam Washington, first state record. North American Birds 58:298-300 (PDF)
Oates, J. 1997 Identification of Taiga Bean Goose and Tundra Bean Goose. Birding World 10: 421-426
Pranty, B. et al. 2008. ABA Checklist: Birds of the Continental United States and Canada, seventh edition. American Birding Association. Colorado Springs, CO.
Ruokonen, M. et al. 2008. Taxonomy of the bean goose-pink-footed goose. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 48:554-562.
Sangster, G. and G. J. Oreel. 1996 Progress in taxonomy of Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese Dutch Birding 18: 310-316