Updated: Feb 26, 2020
Bird Notes: We might take a week off from the Newsletter, so the next one you will receive could be two weeks from now, on or about Wednesday, 12 February. Meanwhile, Sunday morning bird walks continue as always at 9:30am meeting at the Boathouse Restaurant/Cafe - through February. Even though we are headed to South Dakota on 4 February for a week to photograph Golden Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks, and Gyrfalcons - the bird walks go on!
This Newsletter brings good news about birds in NYC and the region: the seven or so species of geese that have been observed here are now more common and more easily seen than ever. This is not just the ubiquitous Canada Goose...there are rare ones such as Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose and White-fronted Goose - all stragglers from Greenland and Europe. Each of these has been seen in NYC in the last several years including a White-fronted Goose in the Bronx just this week. In this Newsletter, we feature Deborah Allen's photos of almost all the goose species ever seen in NYC.
To get a sense of how rare even the Canada Goose was in NYC until recently consider these excerpts from articles written in 1923 and 1958-1968:
1923. Canada Goose. Central Park. Now very rarely seen flying over [by 1923]. 2 May 1899 (Chubb); 18 May 1900 (Chubb); 11 October 1904 (Hix); 21 November 1918 (Chubb). BRONX REGION. Rare transient, seldom alighting. 9 October 1915 (Hix and L. N. Nichols) to 22 December 1909 (Griscom and LaDow); 13 March 1915 and 15 March 1920 (E. G. and L. N. Nichols). 1958. Canada Goose. Central Park. Rare transient, flying over. 28 March 1945 (Robert Cushman Murphy) to 18 May 1900 (Chubb); 7 October 1953 (Irv Cantor, Messing) to 21 November 1918 (Chubb). 275 on 18 October 1952 (Messing, Post); 200 on 25 April 1953 (Skelton). From 1959 to 1967 in Central Park: one on the Reservoir, 8 December 1964 (Carleton). 1958. Canada Goose. Prospect Park. Rare to uncommon transient. 27 March 1949 (Kreissman) to 6 May 1939 (Nathan, Tengwall) and 19 May 1944 (Soll); 7October 1950 (Whelen) to 24 November 1938 (125 birds - Manny Levine, Tengwall). Maximum 181 on 14 April 1944 (several flocks - Nathan, Soll). From 1959 to 1967: no change in status noted in Prospect Park.
In this week's Historical Notes we present information about geese in NYC and the area from circa 1870 to the present:
Describes the 1876 occurrence of a Barnacle Goose on Long Island, and its appearance in a taxidermist's shop on Carmine street in lower Manhattan; further on we present a 2010 discovery of a banded Barnacle Goose in the Bronx.
A 1946 summary article of the status of the rare White-fronted Goose on the coasts of Long Island and New Jersey; (c) the first nesting of the Canada Goose in 1928 at the New York Botanical Garden (the Bronx).
The rare Snow Goose and Blue Goose (1929-1934) on Long Island and New Jersey (two were just seen in Central Park last week); and finally
A 2009 article from the Daily News about a proposal to cull (kill) excess Canada Geese in NYC and feed them to "needy" people.
Greater White-fronted Goose by Deborah Allen, Parade Grounds of Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx), 26 January 2020
Adult Brant by Deborah Allen, Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge (Queens), mid-April 2012
Good! The Bird Walks for Late Jan. through Early Feb.
All Walks @ $10/person - All walks in Central Park
Sunday, 2 February 2020 at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive
Sunday, 9 February 2020 at 9:30am - Boathouse Cafe; 74th street/ East Drive
Immature Snow Geese, Reservoir of Central Park by Deborah Allen on Sunday, 19 January 2020
The fine print: Our walks on weekends meet at 9:30am at the Boathouse Restaurant (approx. 74th street and the East Drive) through early January 2020. Please note: the Boathouse is not one of the buildings that surround the nearby Model Boat Pond - people make this mistake all the time!
Please note that on SATURDAYS we may meet at other locations than Central Park. For example, on 21 December (Saturday) we will be at NYBG in the Bronx...so keep an eye on the Saturday schedule: we might also have no Saturday walks on some weekends in December-January.
Our home phone is 718-828-8262...and Deborah's cell is: 347-703-5554. Email is (email@example.com). If you are lost and trying to get to the bird walk, call Deborah's cell phone...but remember on weekends there will be 2-3 other people calling who are also lost - please be patient. If in doubt about whether a walk will take place or not the morning of the walk: check the main landing page of this web site as well as the "Schedule" page - if the walk is cancelled, information will be posted there by 6am the day of the walk, and usually by 11pm the night before. If still confused and as a last resort, call us at home - if no one answers it means we left for the bird walk. We end all our Central Park walks (except Fridays) at the Boathouse at about noon; you can get a cup of coffee and a muffin there (around $6 total). Walks last about 3 hrs (less if hot or rainy), and you can leave at anytime - we won't be offended. If you need directions/help to your next destination, just ask someone on the walk - we are a helpful group.
Immature male Cooper's Hawk in the Ramble of Central Park on Sunday, 26 January 2020 by Deborah Allen
Here is what we saw last week (brief highlights)
Sunday, 26 January 2020 (Boathouse Restaurant at 9:30am)
You could simply read last week's summary for today, and just add: "there were fewer birds." We found one young male Cooper's Hawk in the Ramble (thank you Sandra), but unlike last week, it was totally uninterested in the calls from my tape. We found an adult female Cooper's on the island in Turtle Pond - taking a bath...so these Accipiters seem comfortable in the park and could nest here. The only other birds of note were the waterfowl at the Reservoir - lovely Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Northern Shovellers..and for a few, a brief glimpse of an Iceland Gull (first-year) in flight.
Domestic Goose by Deborah Allen, Central Park (Manhattan), 24 January 2020
Occurrence of the Barnacle Goose (Bernicula leucopsis) on Long Island, N.Y. 
By Geo. K. Lawrence
I was recently informed, by Mr. Harold Herrick, that a specimen of this species could be seen at the store of Mr. Conway, taxidermist, in Carmine Street [lower Manhattan], said to have been killed on Long Island. I called there and was shown a nicely mounted example of this Goose in perfect plumage. Mr. Conway said that it was brought to him in the flesh, in good condition, and was eaten by his family; he spoke very favorably of its edible qualities. I learned from him that its possessor was Mr. J. K. Kendall of this city. I had an interview with this gentleman, and requested that he would ascertain all the facts possible as to its capture, and send me the information, I received from him the following letter giving the result of his inquiries:
New York, November 29, 1876.
About October 20 I saw a specimen of the Barnacle Goose hanging in a restaurant in this city, — bought it and had it stuffed. I questioned the proprietor, and learned from him the place where he bought it, — from a produce-dealer near Washington Market. Afterwards I interviewed the marketman, and he recollected the bird well, although he had no idea what it was. He told me he bought it from a Long Island farmer, who brought it to the city in his wagon, and who said that it was killed by a boy in Jamaica Bay. Unfortunately he did not know the farmer, — never saw him before nor since, so I was unable to trace the bird any farther, but I am fully satisfied the story was true.
J. K. Kendall.
WILD GEESE. Brooklyn, 27 November .
The largest flock of wild geese that ever came under my observation crossed my house on Sunday a few minutes to 12. I keep a flock of homing pigeons on my roof, and while watching them I saw the geese cross. I went down for my field-glass and counted 103, nine of them in a triangle in front, the rest in single file. Three of my friends made the same count, so it must be correct. The flock was nearly three blocks in length. F. A. S.
Partial Albinism in Canada Geese. — New York.
On the 25th of March , while shooting Canada geese (Anser canadensis) at Capt. Lane's, Good Ground, Long Island, a bunch of seven lit on our live stoolers, but out of gun-shot. While we were waiting for our tender to swim them nearer we had an opportunity to watch their movements as they washed and plumed themselves. The captain called attention to the way the gander was marked; his head had large spots of white on it instead of being all black. When we shot he was not among those killed, so we had no chance to examine him further. However, among those shot were two that were also partial albinos. In one, the under part of each wing had about thirty pure white feathers in it, and in the other the white throat patch extended to the base of the mandible, which was also white to its tip. The eyes and other markings of these birds were normal.
William Dutcher M.D.
Adult Brant Goose by Deborah Allen, late February 2015, Floyd Bennett Field, Brooklyn
Capture of the Egyptian Goose on Long Island.
On the 3d of January, 1877, I received a remarkably fine specimen of a species of Goose entirely unknown to me. The bird was killed in a pond of fresh water near Carnarsie, Long Island, and has every appearance of being a wild bird. The plumage is in fine condition, and the feet are free from warts. On exhibiting it to our well-known ornithologist, Mr. G. N. Lawrence of New York, he expressed great surprise, and promised to investigate the matter. I have since received from him the following communication:
"The Goose shown me yesterday is the Egyptian Goose (Chenalopex egyptiacus, Linn.). It inhabits all of Africa, and numerous specimens have been killed in Great Britain. Its acquisition is worthy of being noted, and whether a straggler or an escaped specimen may be ascertained in the future."
The specimen will be placed in the Museum of the Long Island Historical Society of Brooklyn.
John Akhurst, Brooklyn, N. Y.
A Pink-Footed Goose Taken in Massachusetts.
On September 25, 1924, Mr. Ben P. P. Moseley, of Boston, shot a female Pink-looted Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus Baillon) on the Parker River marshes, Essex County, Mass. The bird was alone and came to duck decoys. As yet we have no data that would lead to the belief that this bird was an "escape." Through the generosity of Mr. Moseley this Goose is now in the possession of the Boston Society of Natural History. W. Sprague Brooks, Boston Society of Natural History, 234 Berkeley St., Boston
Pink-footed Goose by Deborah Allen, Parade Grounds of Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx), 24 December 2016
White-fronted Goose on the coasts of New York and New Jersey .
The White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) is an extremely rare migrant on the Atlantic seaboard of the United States and specimens or authentic sight-records from this section are but few, particularly from New York and New Jersey. The following represent all of the records of this bird that are available from the coast of New York State (Long Island). Early in the past [19th] century a White-fronted Goose was shot at Babylon, Long Island (Giraud). This is the same bird mentioned by DeKay (1844). The specimen was examined while it was in the collection of the N. Y. Lyceum. This collection was destroyed by fire in 1866. Two specimens in the collection of the Long Island Historical Society are referred to by Dutcher (1893). One of these birds was shot at Montauk and presented to the Society by H. G. Reeve. The date is not given. The other specimen was taken on Great South Bay during November, 1846, and was a gift of Col. Nicolas Pike. According to Dutcher, Col. Pike tells of two other geese of this species that were killed by him during his long gunning experience on southern Long Island; the first was secured at Islip on March 18, 1849, and the second was taken on March 2, 1872, at an unnamed point which we must conclude was Long Island. Neither of these specimens was preserved. Braislin reports that he examined a bird of this species that was shot while feeding on a fresh-water pond at Sag Harbor on October 18, 1889. With Helme's sight-record of eleven of these geese at Miller Place on April 5, 1883, the New York coast records end. Records of the occurrence of the White-front in New Jersey likewise are few. Dr. Charles C. Abbott (Catalog of Vertebrate Animals of New Jersey, Appendix E, Geology of New Jersey, Newark: 792, 1868) refers to this goose as a rare straggler and says that he has seen but one specimen, an undated bird shot at Barnegat. William P. Trumbull (Birds of Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey: 35, 1869) makes a general statement that the bird is a rare winter visitor but he cites no records. Witmer Stone (Report of the New Jersey State Museum, pt. 2: 94-95, 1908) notes the above statements and adds that Charles A. Voelker, a taxidermist, advised Stone that one of these birds was shot on the Delaware River in 1877 and that it was mounted by him. There is a lapse of 49 years before this goose is again heard from in New Jersey. On November 28, 1926, Ludlow Griscom observed a single White-fronted Goose flying south over Beach Haven Point. In this note Griscom draws attention to the fact that during the same fall specimens of this species were taken in Massachusetts, and in North and South Carolina. The next record is of two geese seen by C. A. Urner and J. L. Edwards on November 11, 1928, just inside the Inlet of Barnegat Bay. Edwards (in litt) states that the two White-fronts were flying south in company with a small flock of Brant. The flock passed directly over the observers' boat giving an opportunity to note specific characters. The unpublished field notes of Mr. Urner contain another record of this goose. On November 10, 1935, four geese passed over his boat on Barnegat Bay which he identified as of this species. He refers particularly to the yellow feet and legs of the birds. In the past fall an additional record may be credited to the New Jersey coast. On November 16, 1945, while walking south along the beach on the ocean side of Beach Haven Point, we noticed a small flock of geese approaching from the north, flying at a height of about 75 feet and just within the line of the surf. As soon as our glasses were on them the possibility of Canadas or Brant were immediately excluded and, as they flew directly over our heads, their speckled breasts and the characteristic head-markings of the adults showed them to be White-fronts. The flock consisted of five birds: two adults and three immatures. The little flock was led by one of the adults. The sun was just setting and its light seemed to give a warm, rosy glow to the speckled breasts of the adult birds as they passed low over our heads and swung around the Point, seeking the sheltered water of the Bay for the night. MABEL M. AND C. K. NICHOLS, Ridgewood, N. J.
Greater White-fronted Goose by Deborah Allen, Parade Grounds of Van Cortlandt Park (Bronx), 26 January 2020
Tundra Swan Olor columbianus - 1901.
A Whistling [now called Tundra] Swan was killed at Flatlands, a village within the boundaries of Greater New York, by Asher White, a farmer living there, on Dec. 24, 1901. He had the bird mounted and I recently examined the specimen at his house on Mill Lane. I was informed that the bird had been killed on Flat Creek, one of the tide-water channels emptying into that portion of Jamaica Bay known locally as Flatlands Bay. The father and grandfather of the White who shot the swan, and who also lived here, on occasion 'gunned' for the market, but never met this species. On the day on which he made this capture he had gone to this creek for water-fowl, where tall grass formed a natural blind. The swan was first seen in flight and took to the water not far off, but out of gun-range. After long waiting, however, it swam within range when the farmer killed it by a heavy charge of shot, with which he was fortunate enough to break the neck of the immense bird.
Cackling Goose (left) & Canada Goose by Deborah Allen, Parade Grounds of Van Cortlandt Park (the Bronx), 6 November 2013
CANADA GEESE IN THE BOTANICAL GARDEN (Summer 1928 - the Bronx)
Five years ago  a pair of Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) came from the New York Zoological Park and built a rough nest on a little island in the Botanical Garden in the wild portion of one of the three ponds that drain into the Bronx River. That year, the first time that they tried it, there was a very wet spring and the nest was flooded, the second year the eggs were stolen, and the third year one of the old birds was killed. Last year they were watched and guarded by the regular watchman in charge of that section of the Garden and they succeeded in hatching out five of the eggs, of which brood three goslings are reported to have returned to the Zoo. The tale is told, that the mother goose and three little goslings held up the traffic on the Pelham Parkway, while they deliberately waddled across, a negro chauffeur heading the line of waiting automobiles and grinning from ear to ear. This amount of consideration is not often given to any wild animals, for squirrels and toads are often found crushed on the main avenues of traffic in The New York Botanical Garden.
This year [Summer 1928] the same pair tried to nest again in the same place as last year, and again the eggs were stolen. Meanwhile they have become so tame that they will readily feed from the hand. Many members of the staff feed these geese, and often as many as fourteen of the birds may be found swimming around in the upper lake near the shelter house; but the original pair resent the intrusion of any outsiders and claim the right to be hand-fed, chasing the others away if they venture too near. Some of these others may have been born here at the Garden, for it is a well-known fact that birds return to the places where they have previously nested. It is not unusual to see them flying about and hear them honking. There are so many of them now at the New York Zoological Park that they are not clipping their wings, thus giving the benighted "speed-maniacs" who dash through the gardens mornings and evenings, a chance to see and hear some of the wild denizens who still have the courage to live here.
But it is evident that if we are to keep any of the native animals and plants, it will be necessary to do what has been done at "The Yale Natural Preserve" at New Haven. Here a selected tract of about twelve acres has been surrounded by a high wire mesh fence and designated as a wild plant and bird sanctuary. The area includes a swamp and a small stream which has been dammed up to form a pond. It includes a variety of habitats, and already a large number of rare or otherwise interesting plants have been set out here—plants such as the showy lady's-slipper and trailing arbutus, which it is desired to have accessible but which cannot be successfully grown at the Garden. Considerable areas within the sanctuary have been cleared of weeds and planted to berry-producing shrubs or small trees of recognized food value to birds. A small portable house has also been erected here to serve as a workshop and general headquarters for the custodian.
ELIZABETH G. BRITTON
Greater Snow Goose on Long Island, N. Y. 
The Snow Goose (Chen hyperboreus) is such a rare bird along the Atlantic coast north of Delaware Bay, especially in Spring, that a summary of its recorded occurrences on Long Island, New York, and in the New York City region during the northward migration may be of interest. Giraud, in his 'Birds of Long Island' (1844), says of Anser hyperboreus: "With us, the occurrence of this bird is not frequent. Occasionally the young are seen exposed for sale in the New York markets, though rarely the adult. In some seasons, small parties are seen on the South Bay, and now and then stragglers are seen flying in company with the Canada Geese." He does not state in which "seasons" they are seen. Braislin (1907), in his 'List of the Birds of Long Island, New York,' speaks of the Greater Snow Goose (Chen hyperboreus nivalis) as a "rare autumnal migrant" and mentions four autumn and winter records. Eaton, in 'Birds of New York' (1910) gives eleven records for the subspecies nivalis on Long Island, only one of these being in spring (Shelter Island, April 3, 1889. One male, Dutcher). He also speaks of Fisher's observation of several hundred birds, presumably of the same subspecies, on the Hudson River at Ossining N.Y., April 8, 1882. On April 15, 1917, the writer had the unexpected pleasure of seeing a flock of at least twenty-five Snow Geese (subsp.?) migrating northeastward over Long Beach, Nassau County, Long Island. The sight of these large white birds with black wing-tips against a background of alternating blue sky and dark strato-cumulus clouds rolling out of the northwest, combined with the high-pitched "honking" of the flock, left an impression which is still vivid in his memory after a lapse of twelve years. This record, and one by Mr. Roy Latham for Orient, April 17, 1919, are to be found in Griscom's 'Birds of the New York City Region' (1923) and constitute, apparently, the second and third (and, to date, the last) published spring records for the species on Long Island. Recent observations of Snow Geese in the New York City region are as follows: Messrs. T. Donald Carter and F. E. Watson saw a flock of thirty-seven flying north over the Jersey City Reservoir at Boonton, Morris County, N.J., April 6, 1924. On April 11, 1926, Messrs. R. R. Coles and De L. F. Johnson found one individual on Long Island Sound off Sound Beach, Conn. Mr. John R. Kuerzi has reported seeing one bird on Staten Island, N.Y., April 17, 1926, and Mr. Allan D. Cruickshank saw two flying up the Hudson River near Yonkers, N.Y., March 9, 1929.
Blue Goose (Chen caerulescens) in Cape May Co., N.J.
About the end of October 1934, a Blue Goose appeared on a pond on the property of Mr. Michael McPherson at Cold Spring, N. J., and joined a flock of Peking Ducks which he had on the farm. The Goose became more tame as time passed and came up to the barn with the Ducks, and to save it from possible killing by gunners when the shooting season began, Mr. McPherson caught it in a crab-net and placed it in a chicken coop. The confinement or the food provided for it did not prove congenial and the bird was again liberated. It was still present at the end of January although it had been wing-clipped in the meantime. It was a bird of the year with a black head and bill and constitutes the first record, so far as I know, for the county. WITMER STONE, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.
Kill the geese, feed the needy?
New York Daily News
BY LISA L. COLANGELO DAILY NEWS CITY HALL BUREAU Friday, June 23rd, 2006 These geese could be cooked. Federal wildlife experts netted and gassed 165 of the birds on Rikers Island yesterday. The Canada Geese - which could end up as food for the needy - are considered a hazard for planes flying in and out of LaGuardia Airport. U.S. Department of Agriculture officials will come back to the island next week to see if any birds dare to return - and kill more if necessary. The birds will be frozen and tested to see if they are safe for donation to food pantries, officials said. So far this year, 32 planes have struck geese at LaGuardia, Port Authority officials said yesterday. But animal advocates are honking mad that the Port Authority, which operates the airport, and the city's Correction Department, which runs the Rikers Island jails, haven't worked harder to find a nonlethal method of controlling the geese, which nest on the island in June. "The humane community is really making an ultimatum," said Gary Kaskel of United Action for Animals. "If they don't look for a permanent fix, we'll use the courts." Although the number of geese killed has dropped every year since the first roundup in 2004, when more than 400 were permanently grounded, Kaskel said the killing is a bird-brained idea. He said "landscape modification" that would make the grassy area unfriendly to the birds is the "best thing for the birds and the flying public." "We have a very complex environment out there," said Richard Chipman, New York State director of USDA Wildlife Services. "Our foremost issue is to make sure the jails are still safe," he added, referring to altering the landscape. Last year's birds were to be sent to food pantries but have sat in a freezer after some of the geese tested showed low levels of cadmium, a heavy metal. Chipman said most of the cadmium showed up in the birds' organs and not the breast meat that would be sent to the pantries. He said testing will continue this year on the newer crop of geese to see if they can be eaten. Chipman said that a committee of city and state officials and animal welfare advocates will look at landscape options over the next year to try to end the flap.
Barnacle Goose by Deborah Allen, Parade Grounds of Van Cortlandt Park, 28 November 2012
Subject: Barnacle Goose - Pelham Bay Park, The Bronx
From: Keith Michael Date: Friday, 26 Nov 2010 A Barnacle Goose was seen today, early afternoon, at Pelham Bay Park,The Bronx, on the lawns around the entrance to the parking lot at Orchard Beach with the roaming flocks of Canada Goose. It had a white band on its right leg. Good luck if you go. Keith Michael Manhattan, NY
Subject: Re: Barnacle Goose at Orchard Beach, NYC appears injured
From: Angus Wilson
Date: Saturday, 27 November 2010
Naturally, it is troubling to hear that the bird is in distress, with the leg band as the possible culprit. However, I'm very intrigued by the details of the band. Does anyone have photos that show it? Do the letters read up (or down) the leg or around it?
Barnacle Geese are seen annually in our region but the origins of these birds remains a topic of healthy debate. The discovery of banded birds provides a rare opportunity to supplement speculation with fact. With this in mind, it's important to establish the type of band that has been used on the Orchard Beach bird. Is it a type used by waterfowl collections/breeders or an engraved plastic 'darvic' band of the type used by several banding (ringing) projects studying the wild and feral populations in Europe?
A good number of the Greenland and Svalbard nesting populations have been marked with darvic rings/bands allowing researchers to map out the migration routes and determine other statistics relevant to their population biology (e.g. lifespan). Systematic marking of the Svalbard population began back in 1970. What I don't know yet is whether these 'color-banded' birds carry a conventional metal band as well.
There are only two prior band recoveries of wild Barnacle Goose in North America, both from Canada.
Newfoundland 1981, banded on Svalbard in 1977.
Ottawa River, Ontario 2005, banded in Scotland in 2004.
Getting the unique numbers that will unambiguously ID this individual would be a triumph but combination of 3-letter code and 3 ring combination may be sufficient. Angus Wilson
New York City & The Springs, NY
Subject: Re: Barnacle Goose, picture of metal band - ORIGIN! From: drilbu Date: Sunday, 28 November 2010 Good Morning! Many thanks indeed for this excellent record. It is indeed one of our birds, ringed on the island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland on 13 November 2002 as a juvenile (so it is now eight years old). It is only the second record that we have of one of our birds on your side of the Atlantic the other one was shot in Canada a couple of years back. The bird that you have seen is part of a long-term monitoring programme that we have ringing the birds on their wintering grounds on Islay and following up their sightings histories over the last 25 years. We had regular sightings of this bird on Islay up to March 2005 (all within about 10 miles of its original ringing site) after which it disappeared. One of its parents and a sibling that we caught and ringed at the same time are still regularly seen on Islay. Its a real shame about the bird limping so badly. We have a had a very small number of birds to which this has happened - it may be associated with a leg injury/ring damage caused perhaps through shooting (many of the geese are shot in Iceland on their migration and some also in Scotland in winter).
So thanks again very much for your great sighting. Steve Dr Steve Percival Ecology Consulting
Deborah Allen and Robert DeCandido PhD
Barnacle Geese on the island of Islay off the west coast of Scotland about to be banded