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Unusual goose spotted at B.C. bird count

Hybrid of Canada and domestic species seen near Fort Langley

A rarely-seen mix of Canada goose and domestic goose was discovered paddling near Brae Island during the 13th Fort Langley bird count, held Saturday, March 2.

Event organizer Phil Henderson, a Fort Langley resident, called it an “oddball goose,” bigger, with a larger head and different colouring than a standard Canada goose.

“It’s something unusual,” Henderson noted.

“In addition to the size and facial differences, the orange legs of the hybrid [are different] – a ‘regular’ Canada Goose has black legs,” Henderson explained.

While Canada geese and domestic geese don’t normally mate with each other, it has been known to happen, experts say, and hybrids can end up as part of a flock of Canada geese or domestic geese, depending on which parent they imprint on.

About 20 people braved cold and damp weather conditions to carry out the count at six different locations in the Derby Reach and Brae Island parks, including the Houston Trail, Derby Bog and peatlands, Edgewater Bar, and Fort-to-Fort Trail areas.

Henderson led the group that went to the bog, a sensitive conservation area which requires a permit from Metro Vancouver to enter.

”It’s not high diversity, but it’s interesting in species that occur there,” Henderson commented.

Such as spotting a Sandhill crane, which Henderson described as a “high point” of the day.

“They move around a bit, but the Derby Bog is an area that they do frequent,” Henderson said.

“We were lucky enough to see them. We heard them initially when we went into the bog, and then we saw one flying over, so we confirmed at least one.”

READ ALSO: Bog an ‘environmental treasure chest’

The highest number of species, 35, were counted along the Fort to Fort trail section, while the lowest number, 16, was counted in the bog and Houston Loop.

Overall, 44 species and 1,200 individual birds were counted. That represented a slight drop from previous counts, which have averaged as many as 53 species and 1,400 birds.

“So the numbers are down, but generally I’d say that things have stayed pretty consistent [over the years],” Henderson told the Langley Advance Times.

“Thank goodness for Metro Parks – they’ve really done well to conserve that area.”

Henderson said beyond tracking bird populations, the goal of the event is to encourage people to learn about birds from experienced birders and experts.

“We try to get the inexperienced people out, just to encourage them to develop a relationship with their environment, and that sense of stewardship which goes ultimately towards conservation.”

Results of the count are shared with participants and also Metro Vancouver.

“I do a brief report every year,” Henderson said.

Anyone interested on taking part in future bird counts can email

READ ALSO: Bird counting gives excuse to get out and about in North Langley parks

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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