Wayward Barnacle Goose in Cape May, NJ

Posted 2/18/07
by Paul Kerlinger
Outdoor Editor

Cape May, NJ - Barnacle Geese aren’t supposed to be in Cape May now or at any time of the year.

But this weekend, a wayward goose was munching on grasses on Stephens St., oblivious to the fact that he really should be in Denmark right now.

Local birding expert Jim Dowdell says it's the first sighting ever of a Barnacle Goose in Cape May.

The rare bird was easy to spot among the 200 or so Canada Geese on the West Cape May property. Barnacle Geese are slightly smaller than Canada Geese, with a much smaller beak.

What really makes these birds stand out in a crowd is their lighter color, especially the greater white areas on their faces.

Although a few of these birds are seen on occasion in coastal Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, they are almost unheard of in New Jersey.

They normally nest in northeastern Greenland, well above the Arctic Circle. They winter in farm fields and marshes in Denmark, northern Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and England.

So, the Barnacle Goose that is now in Cape May is truly a long way from home.

There was a lot of drive-by birding going on on Stephens Street this weekend. For birders, a Barnacle Goose is a great find.

As with most of the rare birds that appear in Cape May, they are here today and gone tomorrow, so there was no time to waste.

How did this particular wayward goose get so far off his usual migration course?? Perhaps it's the wild, windy weather we've been having this winter.

Even if he hunkers down and spends the rest of the winter in Cape May, this Barnacle Goose can't stay here forever.

Come spring, he'll have to find his way back to Greenland in time for nesting season.

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