Emperor Goose at Reifel Refuge

I was at Reifel Bird Sanctuary on Westham Island today and managed to spot a juvenile Emperor Goose in and among several hundred Snow Geese. The bird was located in a field visible from the easternmost trail. The following coordinates were taken from Google Earth: Lat 49° 6’3.94″N Long 123°10’41.75″W and mark the approximate position of the bird while I was observing it. I spent about half an hour watching this little fellow forage for food at the edge of this particular field.

The Emperor Goose typically breeds in coastal western Alaska and spends the winter in the Aleutian Islands (Petersen et al 1994). According to the IUCN Red List the Emperor Goose is listed as near threatened. Subsistence hunting and oil pollution appear to be the cause for a population decline of 139,000 in 1964 to 42,000 in 1986; however, a 2002 survey estimated the population at 84,500. Climate change is expected to contribute to further population declines (BirdLife International 2008).

My pictures aren’t the greatest as they had to be taken at maximum magnification (60x on my spotting scope) but Paul (revs) has posted some excellent photos of a juvenile seen at the Steveston section of the Richmond Dike on the Birding in BC forums. This may be the same individual I saw today as Steveston is not far from the Reifel Bird Sanctuary. I had a spectacular time watching this Emperor Goose and I would definitely say it is one of my best sightings of the year.

References:

Petersen, M. R., J. A. Schmutz and R. F. Rockwell. 1994. Emperor Goose (Chen canagica), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/bna/species/097doi:10.2173/bna.97

BirdLife International 2008. Chen canagica. In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 24 October 2009.

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