Follow that bird: A new goose at Airlie

Visitors certainly expect to see a variety of wildlife as part of the Airlie experience. Canadian geese, fox, skunks (yep, it’s the country!), swans, and ducks are just some of the animals who call our grounds home. Recently, we discovered a new feathered friend, but we’re not quite sure how to identify him. So naturally, we turned to social media, and questioned the masses. A few answers we received were:

  • Piebald Canadian Goose
  • Domestic Goose x Canadian Goose
  • Canadian Goose x Snow Goose
  • Swan x Canadian Goose (Swoose)

Hybrid Goose Airlie VA

One user directed us to AskaNaturalist.com, which has an interesting article about how hybrid bird species come to be. The author writes about two main scenarios in which hybridization may occur. 1) Geese tend to lay eggs in nests of other geese, and sometimes other species altogether. This causes the gosling to imprint upon its “parent,” and look for a similar mate when the time comes. 2) Forced copulation between species, also quite common in birds – geese especially.

Due to its coloring, we’re leaning toward Snow Goose x Canadian Goose (Chen caerulescens x Branta canadensis). We’re also excited to report that this goose seems to have a mate, a Canadian Goose. The pair are spotted together daily, so we’re waiting patiently for the possibility of goslings.

Hybrid goose in Virginia at Airlie

Either way, we’re excited to have new wildlife to study here at Airlie. We’d love to see your photos as well – please share them with us on our social channels @AirlieVA on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Happy bird watching!