Family Ducks, Geese, Swans (Anatidae)

Least Concern

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii)


French: Bernache de Hutchins German: Zwergkanadagans Spanish: Barnacla canadiense chica
Other common names: Aleutian Canada Goose (leucopareia), Taverner Canada Goose (taverneri), Baffin Island Canada Goose, Richardson's Canada Goose (hutchinsii)

Anser Hutchinsii


, 1832,

Melville Peninsula, Canada


Recent decision#R to separate four taxa below from B. canadensis was based on evidence of their relatively high levels of genetic divergence from other taxa, plus their generally smaller (sometimes strikingly smaller) size, proportionately shorter bill and reportedly distinctive voices coupled with their occupation of tundra habitats; although in general the case appears strong, its acceptance here is provisional given that nominate hutchinsii approaches B. c. parvipes in size and that the degree of intergradation along the long border shared by the taxa remains undocumented, while vocal convergence also appears to occur; however, in at least one narrow zone of intergradation the taxa largely segregate genetically probably based on behavioural and ecological factors#R, lending support to their status as separate species. Considerably more research into the distinctiveness and constancy of characters in all widely accepted taxa is needed in order to confirm the appropriateness of recognizing two (or, indeed, more) species. Proposed race asiatica, described from Commander and Kuril Is (and listed as extinct in first edition of Red Data Book), now considered synonymous with leucopareia. Large numbers of new races proposed in 2006/07 for this complex#R; all provisionally omitted here, pending further assessment. Four subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • B. h. leucopareia (J. F. Brandt, 1836) – Aleutian Is and Semidi Is; winters W USA (California). A reintroduction programme is ongoing in the Kuril Is, and wintering birds, presumably from this population, are regularly recorded in Japan.
  • B. h. minima Ridgway, 1885 – coastal W Alaska from Pastol Bay S to Kuskokwim Bay; winters coastal W USA from Oregon S to California.
  • B. h. taverneri Delacour, 1951 – Alaska Peninsula E to Mackenzie Delta; winters SW USA S to W coast of Mexico.
  • B. h. hutchinsii (Richardson, 1832) – from Mackenzie R Delta E throughout NC Canada; rare in Greenland. Winters in S USA (Texas) and Mexico.
  • Descriptive notes

    55–110 cm; 1650–2380 g (hutchinsii), 1095–1890 g (minima). Very variable, but generally distinctive, except with respect to B. canadensis; black... read more


    Vocalizations require detailed study, but are generally considered to be similar, albeit less... read more


    No known substantiative differences from B. canadensis. For example, race minima... read more

    Food and feeding

    No known substantiative differences from B. canadensis, especially as comparatively few studies to date have focused on the diet,... read more


    Season varies much according to locality but concentrated in spring; behaviour of Arctic breeders much less well known than southern birds... read more


    Natural populations mainly migratory, flying southwards to winter in southern states of USA and... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total indigenous population of this species and B. canadensis (mostly the latter species) over 3,000,000 birds in 1980s and... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 14 December 2019).