By Chester A. Reed
CANADA GEESE (Branta canadensis canadensis) are the most highly prized of all water fowl. Great creatures, 3 feet or more in length, and with tender flesh and appetizing, they appeal to the gourmand; wary yet coming to decoys, they furnish the greatest sport for the hunter, and he also gets game worth while when he brings one down.
Canada Geese breed from the Northern States north to the limit of trees and winter chiefly in the southern half of the United States. Northern hunters eagerly await the loud honking of the first spring flock, while southern ones just as enthusiastically wait their return in late fall. It is a grand sight to see the wide V-shaped line of great birds swiftly speed overhead, their large wings strongly beating the air and from their throats to hear the loud honking that sounds so like a pack of fox hounds in full cry.
HUTCHINS GOOSE (Branta canadensis hutchinsi). This is a slightly smaller variety found chiefly in western United States, measuring about 28 in. in length and the tail having normally but 16 feathers, while that of the last species has 18 or 20. It occasionally occurs on the Atlantic coast.
WHITE-CHEEKED GOOSE (Branta canadensis occidcntalis). This species is equal to the Canada Goose in size but is slightly darker, especially on the under parts, and the black on the throat often extends up to the chin, thus making two white cheek patches instead of a single cravat extending from ear to ear. It is found on the Pacific coast, breeding in the north and wintering south to California.
CACKLING GEESE (Branta canadensis minima) are quite small, measuring but 2 feet in length. In appearance they are just like a dwarfed White-cheeked Goose, only the tail normally contains but 14 or 16 feathers. They are found chiefly west of the Rocky Mountains. Geese feed upon berries, grasses and roots, which they gather in fields, along shore, or by " tipping" in shallow water. They swim well, but do not dive. On land they walk easily and gracefully compared with the walk of barnyard geese.