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#ABArare – Tundra Bean-Goose – California

On Oct 19, Garrett MacDonald and Tyler Pockette found a Bean-Goose, apparently a Tundra Bean-Goose (Code 3), at Unit 1 of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge in California. It was in a flock of about 600 Snow and Ross’s geese and several Greater White-fronted Geese. Many birders looked for it on Oct 20 without success. They also reported that the Snow and Ross’s flock was smaller by about one-third compared to the previous day.

Tundra Bean-Goose at Unit 1 of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR. Photo by Garrett MacDonald.

Tundra Bean-Goose at Unit 1 of the Sonny Bono Salton Sea NWR. Photo by Garrett MacDonald.

Bean-Goose identification can be difficult. In fact, a Bean-Goose of uncertain identity was in essentially the same spot in 2010. That one was tentatively identified as a Taiga Bean-Goose, but some felt that it appeared to be intermediate between Taiga and Tundra. The Sixth Edition of National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America actually has an illustration of that individual due to the identification challenge presented by it and other intermediate individuals. The latest bird looks good for Tundra, though I won’t be surprised if there’s more discussion about its identity.

The bird was found north of the wooden observation platform at the north end of Vendel Road. Here’s a map if you want to try your luck. From the parking area for the observation platform, walk north towards the Salton Sea and look for the goose flock. If the bird is refound, it will be reported on the Inland Counties listserv and the ABA Rare Bird Alert Facebook group.