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The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Winged Wednesday XXIV: A Barnacle

Posted by | March 7, 2012 | Filed under: Observations

Barnacle Goose by Brian Harris 

The Wells Reserve boundary stretches well beyond the familiar Laudholm campus, as our partnership with the USFWS Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge means the reserve includes most salt marsh habitats within the Town of Wells. So when birder Brian Harris photographed a Barnacle Goose (with Mallard and American Black Ducks) on the Moody marsh, he documented a new species for both the refuge and the reserve. For the reserve, this would be species number 265.

Barnacle Geese summer at far northern latitudes; Greenland, Svalbard, and Novaya Zemlya are traditional breeding grounds, with Baltic Sea nations recently hosting a population. The bird's winter range is mainly England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. So what would a Barnacle Goose be doing in Wells?

It seems just about any out-of-range goose could be a suspected escapee from a zoo or private collection, but birders are becoming more convinced that occasional wanderers appear in the northeast naturally. A nice summary on the topic, "Greenland Geese in North America," was published just a few years ago in North American Birding magazine.

The Maine Bird Records Committee decided unanimously that a 2003 record of the species was valid, thereby adding it to the official list of Maine birds, and their reasoning for that acceptance would likely apply to this individual, as well — it is acting like a wild bird, exhibits no telltale signs of captivity, and fits a pattern of increasing levels of apparently natural vagrancy.

If careful scrutiny by ornithologists suggests this goose got here with human assistance, we are happy to remove it, but meanwhile we have added Barnacle Goose to our complete list of birds.

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