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#ABArare – Bean-Goose sp – Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has not been wanting for vagrant geese lately. In addition to the ABA Code 4 Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese and the the province’s second record of Ross’s Goose seen over the last couple weeks, you can add a Tundra/Taiga Bean-Goose (ABA Code 3/4) found in Yarmouth yesterday by a non-birding golfer, identified by Ronnie Dentremont, and well photographed by several before sundown on the same day. In addition to the continental rarity of the species, either bean-goose would be a provincial first for Nova Scotia and only the fourth record for the eastern half of the continent.

Bean Goose sp in Yarmouth, NS, photo by Ronnie Dentremont

Bean Goose sp (presumably Tundra) in Yarmouth, NS, photo by Ronnie Dentremont

Determining which of the two bean geese this individual represents is difficult, but at this point the consensus seems to be coming down around Tundra Bean-Goose. More photos, by Bill Curry, are available here. If anyone has any insight, please offer your suggestions in the comments below.

Yarmouth is located on the far western end of Nova Scotia, just over 300km from Halifax. The bird was seen at close range at the Yarmouth Golf Course. On the Nova Scotia listserv, Eric Mills gives specific directions as follows:

Drive S on Main Street, Yarmouth, for about a km from the central business district (Main Street becomes Chebogue Road). The golf course will be on your left. Park opposite the path that leads to the clubhouse. The goose has been feeding in easy sight of the road just to the east on the closest green. It may not be necessary to get out out of your car to see it.

The AOU split Bean Goose into two species, Taiga and Tundra Bean-Goose, in the 2007 annual supplement.  The committee made the split based on an article in Dutch Birding by Sangster and Oreel (1996). Tundra Bean-Goose is slightly smaller and shorter-necked with a deeper base to the bill and a blunt bill tip, unlike the longer-billed, flattened bill tip in Taiga Bean-Goose.

Both Bean-Geese are semi-regular vagrants to western Alaska, with records coming mostly from the spring.  Records of bean-geese outside of Alaska are far fewer. There are four records of Taiga Bean-Goose, from the Iowa/Nebraska border (1984-85), Quebec (1897), Nebraska (1998) and Washington (2002). For Tundra Bean-Goose, there are only three; Quebec (1983), Yukon (2000), and a recent record from California only last month.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

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