Branta Hutchinsii – Cackling Goose

Branta Hutchinsii - Cackling Goose found in the US

The cackling goose (Branta hutchinsii) is a North American bird belonging to the genus Branta of black geese. It is distinguished from the grey Anser species by its predominantly black plumage.

Quick Overview: Branta Hutchinsii – Cackling Goose
Body size: Around 22-30 in (56-76 cm) and a weight of 3001 g (105.9 oz)
Main colors: Brown, Black, White
Range: Central United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: March, April, May, September, October, November
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Cackling Goose Description

Brown overall with a black neck and head, white cheeks and throat (“chinstrap”), white under tail feathers, and a blackish bill, legs, and feet. Brown color varies between subspecies and ranges from dark to mild brown.

Branta Hutchinsii - Cackling Goose found in the US
Branta Hutchinsii – Cackling Goose. Photo by: Andrea Pokrzywinski


These birds have a length of 22-30 in (56-76 cm) and a weight of 3001 g (105.9 oz). Their wings could range from 43-47 in (109-119 cm).


Cackling Geese are mostly herbivorous, feeding on grasses, sedges, and berries. Prior to migration in the fall, they alter their diet to include more sedge seeds and berries in order to gain fat.


This is a native species in North America. It breeds in a range of tundra settings throughout northern Canada and Alaska. The nest, on the other hand, is typically positioned in a high area near the water.


During migration and winter, Cackling Geese are highly gregarious, feeding in large flocks; individuals and family groupings are often found in flocks with Canada Geese. With the approach of the breeding season, Cackling Geese become less sociable as pairs depart the flock in search of nest sites.

Branta Hutchinsii Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Anseriformes
  • Family: Anatidae
  • Genus: Branta
  • Species: Branta hutchinsii

Best time of the year to see

In the United States, the best time of year to see these birds are during the Spring season (March-May) and during the Autumn season (September – November).

Distribution of the Cackling Goose in the USA

North American native. Breeds in a range of tundra environments throughout the coasts of northern Canada and western Alaska, all the way to Baffin Island. Winters in northern Mexico, from British Columbia to California. Additionally, it spends the winter throughout a significant portion of the Midwest and Great Plains, from eastern Colorado and New Mexico to Illinois.

The Cackling Goose can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Branta Hutchinsii – Cackling Goose

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