Posted by: atowhee | October 20, 2018


October 20

Our McMinnville Parks and Rec birding class hit Fernhill Wetlands at mid-day.  As soon as you leave your car or near the place on foot, you now hear the cackling of Cackling Geese.  It is fortuitous that they be known familiarly as “Cacks” as it makes for so much fine word-play.

In football you have kick-off, at Fernhill when the geese panic you get “Cack-off.”  In many shady businesses which can include politics, you get kick-back.  When the Cacks are done flying around in panic and tooting their own horns, they circle and begin to return to the lake.  Hence “Cack-back.”  The constant chatter, coming from many geese at once can only be “Cackophony.”  There was a single goose drowned by some creature beneath the surface grabbing its head and pulling it beneath the water.  We suspected an otter but never got a clear view and the corpse floated alone across the water, avoided  by the thousands of survivors, thus a “Cacktastrophe.” We never came to firm conclusion about who perpetrated the avicide but I’m sure the Saudi government could come up with a fine explanation for us.cackcack3_LIIn above shot I have marked one of the Cacks with the most clearly defined white neck ring which does occur on small minority of birds in this species.Loafing cacks before the avicide upset the vacationers’ relaxation:cack4cack-upcack-up2Below you see the cackback landing, following the cackoff that put thousands of hallooing geese aloft as in above which captures a small fraction of the action.cack backcm-cacCommon Mergansers were busily diving for fish, moving about in armadas of ten to thirty…all females.coot-mcooties

Our least expected bird of the day was a single Rough-legged Hawk, harried by a local Red-tail.  We saw the bird clearly with feathered legs.  Later we saw this dark morph red-tail on  his own post.rlh4 (1)

Shorebirds included a flock of LB Dowitchers, a single snipe, a single Greater Yellowlegs hob-nobbing with some dowitchers, and Killdeer.


Dabblers were well-represented with Green-wing Teal being the most numerous. Common Mergansers were second in number only to the Cacks themselves.  We found one quartet of White-fronted Geese, happy to be in quiet side slough away from the Cackophony.




Wr dubbed this goose, “Whitey.”  He or she mostly slept.  It being hard work to be outstanding and stand out with such a white pate. I really wanted to turn this bird into an Emperor Goose but ther pattern didn’t fit.  And it didn’t have the requisite white piping on  the edge of wing feathers required to qualify as a juvenile Emperor so we were stuck with going with a slightly leucistic, otherwise ordinary, Cack.  Any differing analysis would be welcome.

Fernhill Wetlands, Washington, Oregon, US
Oct 20, 2018. 32 species

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)  4
Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)  5000
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  40
Northern Shoveler (Spatula clypeata)  6
Gadwall (Mareca strepera)  20
American Wigeon (Mareca americana)  4
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  30
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)  6
Green-winged Teal (American) (Anas crecca carolinensis)  50
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)  2
Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)  60
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  8
Western Grebe (Aechmophorus occidentalis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  X
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  12
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  40
Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  1
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  1
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  5
Great Blue Heron (Blue form) (Ardea herodias [herodias Group])  4
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  10
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)  1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1     adult male
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  2
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)  6
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  X
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  X


  1. […] White headed Cackling Goose at  Fernhill in Washington County, click here. […]

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