Barnacle Goose - Eisenhower Park - 1/8/2006
Images and text copyright © Phil Jeffrey and David Speiser 2006
I do not know who originally found this bird (it had apparently been present since early Dec 2005 as per Angus Wilson), but a post on eBirdsNYC pointed out that a Barnacle Goose was at Eisenhower Park in Nassau County, Long Island as of December 29th 2005. Barnacle Goose is a rarity, but the origins of specific birds are clouded by uncertainty because of their striking appearance and corresponding popularity in captive wildfowl collections. This bird was as tame as the accompanying Canadas, but bore no other signs of captivity (unusual feather wear, bands, clipped hind toes). David Speiser and myself went to take a look at this bird on 1/8/2006 and took some photos:
Image above by David Speiser © 2006
The post "Status of Barnacle Geese in New York" by Angus Wilson as copied from NYSBirds (with permission) is an excellent summary of the issues involved and the NY State Area Record Committee's (NYSARC) position on Barnacle Goose sightings.
My own personal (especially cynical) point of view back in 2006 about Barnacle Geese is that I assumed all Long Island Barnacle Geese are of captive origin and so I did not count this bird on my USA list (I've seen them in Britain). However in the case of this particular bird the only thing pointing to captive origin is its relative tameness and the rather non-wild location (but there were also Wood Duck and Northern Shoveler and many Canada Geese there and these have presumably wild origins). Subsequently it has become apparent that global warming has been influencing Barnacle Goose populations in Greenland such that they are a more frequent winter visitor and both NY and NJ records committees no longer view each sighting with implicit doubts. Certainly there are very few, if any, records from summer months and Barnacles are for the most part arriving and leaving on the same timing as Greenland-originated Canada Geese. (This section updated 2015). Post-script: Jan 24th 2006 Jean Iron posted a message to BIRDWG01 to the effect that a wild Barnacle Goose had been shot in Ontario in fall 2005 and the bands indicated that it had been banded in Scotland in Nov 2004 - so there's at least some wild birds amongst the escapees.
Phil Jeffrey, January 2006