You know it has been a good year for rarities in New York when a quick drive to the Bronx before work to see a Barnacle Goose wasn’t because it was a state bird or a year bird or a state year bird but for three other reasons. They are:

  1. I wanted to add Barnacle Goose to my Bronx County list.
  2. Barnacle Geese are inherently cool.
  3. It would really grip Mike Bergin off.

What’s that you say? You want an explanation for that last one? Well, you see, Mike used to live in the Bronx. Then, several years ago, he absconded to the upstate New York city of Rochester, leaving the Big Apple behind. Also, he has never seen a Barnacle Goose. Therefore, going a bit out of my way on Thursday to see a Barnacle Goose not ten minutes from where Mike used to live and then calling him on the phone just after seeing the bird seemed like a really fun way to spend an hour or so in the morning before going to work.

Though it looks like it would be easy to find, standing by itself in the grass of the Parade Ground at Van Cortlandt Park, it was actually a bit more difficult than just walking out and finding the bird. The Parade Ground is very big, with dips and hollows that block birds from view. The uneven terrain was inhabited Thursday morning by about 1,000 Canada Geese so the Barnacle Goose, though it looks very different, was still not a total gimme. I had to scan for at least five minutes before I found it! Of course, a full minute of that was making sure that the little goose that I found was actually a Cackling Goose. It was.

And my phone call to Mike was fun too. He was not very happy with me. But how could I not share a bird like this with a birding buddy like Mike?

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.