Gift of birdwatching: Varieties of Dallas County geese

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The Snow Goose makes a honking sound that is a single note.


Squeakers, squawkers and honkers are filling the gray autumn sky with undulating, V-shaped ribbons of waterfowl called skeins. This week’s Gift of Bird Watching is an auditory identification of the three types of geese that migrate through Dallas County.

The greater white-fronted goose, also known as a specklebelly or specks, gets its name from the irregular dark markings on its belly. Its call is a nasal-like squeak, similar to a pet toy.

In contrast, the snow goose makes a honking sound that is a single note. Snows have white bodies with black wing tips, making them easy to identify. However, there is a blue morph snow goose that can be confused with a white-fronted, which has a white head.

To make things more challenging, snow geese and greater white-fronted geese often fly together in mixed flocks.

Finally, there is the well-known Canada goose that has the two syllable call, giving them the nickname honkers. These are large, grey birds with black necks and white chin straps.
Next time you hear someone talking about specs, snows, blues or honkers, you will know they are describing the charismatic waterfowl that mark the changing of the seasons.

Mike Havlik is a naturalist with the Dallas County Conservation Department.

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